Even though I didn’t host Thanksgiving this year, I did get the gift of a turkey carcass from my Mom, with which to make Turkey Soup. While the recipe I use, from The Fannie FarmerCookbook, is very simple, making Turkey Soup is a process. But it’s worth it.
First you boil the carcass with water, onions, celery, carrots and black peppercorns for three to four hours, then you let it cool in the fridge overnight. I also always add a cube of chicken bouillon to the soup while it’s hot, for extra flavor. When you get it out of the fridge the next morning, it will have a thick layer of fat on top of it, which you remove and then go through the meat in the soup to remove deadly bones.
Some of the bones of a turkey are very small and clear (I think these come from the wing), others are big and fossil-like, some are dark and small and going through the soup is like taking an anatomy class for a turkey. There’s the vertebrae, one by one, disc one, disc two, the thigh legs, wishbone, some white wormy thing, a bunch of flat, clear gelatin thingies, blobs of fat, dark squiggly things and the random peppercorns. These all need to be discarded, as well as the onion, carrot and celery. Whew!
After that, you add more sliced carrots and heat up the soup again until they are cooked. I like noodles in my soup, so cook Egg Noodles in boiling water. This is a better idea than boiling it in the broth, because then precious broth gets evaporated. If I have leftover stuffing (alas, I don’t this year), that goes into the pot as well. There is a surprising amount of turkey meat that comes off the carcass (unless it’s been picked clean), resulting in a very hearty and filling turkey soup. If it’s too thick, I thin it out a bit with more chicken broth.
I started the soup yesterday. It was a rainy, overcast day; a perfect day to make soup. As an added bonus, your house will smell wonderful while this soup simmers on the stove. I would serve this with a simple salad, a leftover Thanksgiving roll or a Turkey Sandwich, if you want double turkey! Here’s the recipe.
Recipe by The Fannie Farmer CookbookCourse: SoupsCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Moderate
A simple Turkey Soup Recipe for after Thanksgiving.
1 turkey carcass
1 onion, sliced
1 carrot, sliced
2 stalks celery, cut up
6 crushed peppercorns
1 chicken boullion cube
Break the turkey carcass into pieces and put them in a large soup pot with any small pieces of turkey meat that you can spare.
Add 8 cups of water, onion, carrot, celery and peppercorns.
Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover partially and simmer for 3 to 4 hours.
Remove from heat. Let cool a bit and put in the refrigerator overnight.
Skim solidified fat off the top and go through the meat carefully, discarding bones, fat, peppercorns and any weird bits.
Reheat with sliced carrots and noodles of your choice, until noodles are cooked al dente.
Taste and adjust seasoning, as necessary.
If you prefer, you can add rice or barley to the soup, instead of noodles.
It’s all about delicious food and gratitude- what could be better? Throw in some crisp Fall weather, the Macy’s Day parade and some catch football in the front yard, and the day is perfect. Gathering with family and friends we don’t normally get to see all year? Priceless.
I often host Thanksgiving (which sometimes falls on my birthday) but this year I had no desire to. I’m exhausted and the idea of setting the table, cooking for three days, and cleaning for three days, didn’t appeal to me at all. I thought about ordering the meal from a grocery store (like Milam’s), but there’s still the setting the table and cleaning up afterwards and, besides all that, I wouldn’t be able to have my Grandmother’s SausageStuffing, so it was a no-go.
At any rate, A.J. and her family are headed to Mississippi to Justin’s Dad’s, Chris, Courtney, Liam and newborn Luke are headed to Perry to her Dad’s, so it was going to be a very small gathering. When Emma said: “I don’t care about Thanksgiving”, (sacrilege!) it was a done deal for me. Emma thought she was working Thanksgiving (now she isn’t) and seemed disappointed I wasn’t cooking (?). She is going to her future in-law’s house for turkey.
I am going to my Mom’s for Thanksgiving.
She recently had hip surgery so my sister Elise is going to set the table, cook the turkey and stuffing and we are all bringing something and will clean up. The best part of this is, besides the fact I don’t have to host, is I still get to have my Grandmother’s Sausage Stuffing. It is my favorite food to eat at Thanksgiving. When that golden bird emerges from the oven, with it’s lacquered, crispy skin (my second favorite part), I sneak a little bite of the crunchy, savory stuffing that’s gotten browned at the top. Heaven!
One Thanksgiving, when we were hosting a lot of people, Zeke and I had “dueling turkeys”, one stuffed with his Dad’s Oyster Stuffing and one stuffed with my Grandmother’s SausageStuffing. The winner, hands down, was my Nanny’s. The crowd was mostly made up of my side of the family, but still. The Oyster Dressing tasted fishy, not something you want in your turkey. Nanny’s secret ingredient? Besides love, a beaten egg or two in the stuffing to keep it moist. Although I know food safety wisdom advocates for making stuffing OUTSIDE the bird, nothing beats stuffing cooked INSIDE the turkey.
Now it is well-known throughout the Midwest that the old man is a turkey junkie. A bona-fide garlicy turkicanis freak. A few days before Christmas his eyes would begin to gleam with a wild and ravenous light.
A Christmas Story
My Grandmother’s Sausage Stuffing
Recipe by Julia RiceCourse: Side DishCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy
This easy and delicious recipe for stuffing is a Family Tradition. Leftovers can go on sandwiches or in turkey soup.
Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned Stuffing (not cubes) in blue package
Jimmy Dean Regular Sausage (16 oz.)
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup onion, chopped
2 1/2 cups Swanson Organic Chicken Broth
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1 to 2 eggs, slightly beaten
Remove sausage from package and brown in a 3 quart saucepan. Remove sausage and drain grease.
Heat butter in a 3 quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the celery and onion and cook for 5 minutes or until tender crisp.
Add broth to the saucepan and heat to a boil.
Remove sauce pan from heat. Add the stuffing and sausage and mix lightly.
When cooled slightly, add beaten eggs.
The day you’re cooking the turkey (don’t do it ahead) stuff the stuffing into the bird. Stuff both cavities- the breast and the tail side. Don’t overpack and cover the stuffing with aluminum foil so it doesn’t burn. Roast turkey according to its size and weight. You will have additional stuffing left.
Spoon leftover stuffing into a greased baking dish. Cover the dish and bake for 30 minutes or until stuffing mixture is hot.
I don’t drain the sausage fat and save it to saute the vegetables in. I just use just use less butter (like 1/4 cup).
The heavenly aroma still hung heavy in the house. But it was gone. All gone. No turkey sandwiches. No turkey salads. No turkey gravy, turkey hash, turkey a la king or gallons of turkey soup.
A Christmas Story
Wishing you an abundance of leftovers and a very Happy Thanksgiving!
So I was coming from the psychic town of Cassadaga, when I called my daughter-in-law to check in on baby Luke, who had a fever. He ended up in the hospital a couple days before with a fever and, on top of that, they got a report back from a Mold Inspector that their house had TWO KINDS of toxic mold and they had to move out IMMEDIATELY. And this all happened on their wedding anniversary! They stayed with friends for the night.
“A.J. volunteered to help us move, but unfortunately Phoenix has Hand, Foot and Mouth disease,” Courtney said.
“What?” I asked, incredulously.
A.J. and Justin were going to a family wedding and had asked me to babysit the whole weekend, but since I already had the trip to Cassadaga planned on Friday, I told her I would come on Saturday. Saint Augustine was an hour away. A babysitter was with them before I got there, but A.J. had neglected to tell me Phoenix had Hand, Foot and Mouth. She just said he “had a little virus he picked up at school.”
There was no turning back at that point, but I’d gotten sick (from Zeke) in Boston and then in Tallahassee, Chris and Courtney were both sick and I got sicker. Looking back on it, I slept in Liam’s room where the mold was the worst, so maybe it was the mold that caused my headache and breathing issues. At any rate, I was sick of being sick, much less arriving at a home with more sickness in store.
I picked up two Happy Meals at McDonalds, because it was lunchtime and headed to A.J.’s house. I got greeted by Wyatt and Phoenix running to me, screaming “Gigi!” and giving me a big hug. Phoenix had little red dots all over his face and goo coming out of his nose. I proudly presented the two yellow and red boxes with the arched handles, only to be told by Wyatt “We just had those.” The babysitter had gotten them Happy Meals, which Phoenix was still eating. So, fail. I ate a Kid’s Hamburger from one of the meals. It was lousy and the fries were cold.
I brought them presents- a coloring book for Phoenix with 4 crayons from my bank and a rope bracelet kit for Wyatt, from Mystic, Connecticut. The babysitter Mia left, putting the car seat in the back seat of my car. Phoenix started coloring on the floor, Wyatt was on his I-pad on the couch and I let the dog (Mera) in. Personally, I think it’s a lot to just babysit two grandchildren, but adding a rambunctious Labrador puppy to the mix? A bit of overkill.
The crayons suddenly disappeared, with remnants of paper left behind.
“Did the dog eat the crayons? I think the dog ate the crayons,” I said, panicking.
“Don’t worry,” said Wyatt calmly, “she’s eaten a lot worse things.”
I asked what we could do, since I didn’t want to be stuck in the house all day (although driving somewhere seemed a bridge too far) and Wyatt suggested going to climb a tree nearby. So, we set out- Wyatt on his scooter, Phoenix on his bike (that seems too big for him)- to a huge tree a couple blocks away. Phoenix had a hard time pedaling, so I tried to help him, but Wyatt was whizzing away and I worried about cars coming and told Wyatt to watch out.
We got to the tree, they climbed it and once Phoenix got up there, he spontaneously jumped into my arms, laughing. He does this without warning and without making sure you are looking- from trees, kitchen counters and couches. It is very dangerous; he has no fear. I had a mini heart attack but Wyatt desperately needed to use the bathroom. I told him to pee in the bushes but it was #2, so off he went on his scooter and off we went with Phoenix on his bike and me desperately trying to keep up with Wyatt.
I could no longer see Wyatt after he turned down his street and I was panicking. “What if someone kidnaps him? What if he gets hit by a car? What if…?” No matter, that when I was a child we could take off all day on our bikes and be home by dinner without any supervision whatsoever. But times are different. And being a Gigi is different than being a parent.
Luckily, his scooter was in the garage when we arrived and he was inside, safe and sound. Phoenix (thank you God) took a nap and Wyatt and I played a fun game called Jumanji. I miss the one-on-one time with Wyatt, because it’s impossible to focus on anything but Phoenix when I watch the two of them.
I gave them baths and contemplated dinner. When I asked A.J. what she had for me to eat for dinner, she said: lentils, turkey slices and frozen pizza. The frozen pizza seemed like our best bet, but when I opened the freezer it was a Publix vegetable pizza. There’s not much of anything sadder than a Publix vegetable pizza for dinner. Unless it’s lentils or turkey slices, so (at Wyatt’s suggestion) we ordered Papa John’s Stuffed Crust Cheese Pizza. It was good.
Dessert was a couple pieces of Halloween candy, but I definitely didn’t want them to eat too much because sugar + kids = chaos. UM lost to FSU but we couldn’t watch the game because I couldn’t figure out the TV and A.J. and Justin were at their wedding so couldn’t explain it to me. We watched Elf on my computer instead. It’s a little early for Christmas movies, but what the heck. Desperate times…
Wyatt wanted Hot Chocolate to drink while watching Elf, but when I opened the pantry, there was no Swiss Miss or the like. There was Hershey’s Cocoa, so I attempted to make hot chocolate with the little bit of milk remaining and something called coconut sugar (which I’ve never heard of).
“This is really strong,” said Wyatt.
It was, but what’s a Gigi to do? I added some water to it and we watched Elf. Phoenix didn’t seem too interested in it and then, exhausted, we went to bed. At least, I was exhausted. I read Phoenix a couple books and then we slept, with Wyatt at one end, me at the other and Phoenix lying between us, making a giant H in the bed. Phoenix coughed all night and I wondered how Hand, Foot and Mouth disease would present in adults. I had a lousy night’s sleep.
Woke up, tried to take a shower in A.J.’s bedroom but had a hard time figuring it out. Hot, cold, bath, shower? There was no soap, only body wash. What do people have against soap these days? I like soap. And I longed for my own shower with soap, my own coffee maker I know how to use, regular sugar, homemade meals, my own bed and my own TV. Even though I can’t always figure out our TV, I have Zeke at home to help me.
When the babysitter arrived to relieve me at 10 a.m., I took out of there like a bat out of hell. So quick, in fact, I left with Phoenix’s car seat in the back seat of my car. I’d never used it and totally forgot it was there. Oh well. So goes Gigi’s Adventure’s in Babysitting. Wyatt asked when the next Gigi Camp would be. I told him maybe we would do a Winter Edition, but we’ll see. I need to regain my strength first.
When I’ve made this confession to friends and family, they can’t believe it. I am the person, who according to my husband, has never met a trip I didn’t like. But truthfully, the last thing I want to do now is get on another plane headed anywhere but home.
I’m sick of packing, sick of unpacking, sick of airport “food”, sick of packing snacks so I don’t have to eat airplane food. I’ve discovered, if I pack a healthy snack for the flight I will have time to eat elsewhere, but if I don’t, I’ll end up starving. Kind of like bringing an umbrella when you go outside assures it won’t rain. And I refuse to pay money for airplane food. A can of Pringles does not a meal make.
I’m sick of hotels, sick of crappy coffee, sick of packing my dirty laundry in my laundry bag, sick of hotel rooms with no bathtubs, uncomfortable beds and hard pillows. I’ve taken to packing my silk pillowcase with me, so I have some remnant of home along for the ride. I’m sick of checking the hotel and rent-a-car to make sure I didn’t forget anything and I’m sick of losing things on trips. My Jackie O sunglasses are the most recent casualty on my last trip, left in a rent-a-car we took to Mystic, Connecticut for the weekend.
It’s been an amazing year of travel and I realize I’ve been lucky to go to so many wonderful places- New York City to see Funny Girl, Louisville for the Kentucky Derby, checking off my last state of Alaska, Las Vegas for Zeke’s birthday, San Antonio to see the Alamo, Salem in October and also three out-of-town weddings. This last wedding was a family wedding and a family trip with Lauren, Emma, Guillermo (Emma’s fiance) and Eric (Lauren’s boyfriend).
As they say- “it’s all good”- but I’m tired. Very, very tired. I’ve traveled somewhere every month this year and some months (like October), to two and three different places. This month alone I’ve been to: Saint Augustine, Florida, Waynesville, North Carolina, Clemson, South Carolina, Gloucester, Salem, Boston (MA), Mystic, Connecticut and Tallahassee. On top of all that, I caught a cold on my trip to Boston and feel like crap.
My friend Sharon asked if I even remember what my house looks like. My mother called me a “Whirling Dervish”. But I’ve seen Whirling Dervishes (in Istanbul), in their fez hats and white turbans, twirling hypnotically and looking skyward; it’s a religious dance meant to put participants into a meditative state. What I’ve been doing this year has been anything but meditative. It has bordered on lunacy.
I feel more like the Tasmanian Devil, of Looney Tunes fame, whirling and twirling like a tornado with no direction, fangs bared, on constant high alert. I want to eat a homemade meal at 7 o’clock, watch Jeopardy at 7:30, take a bath and be in my own bed by ten. I want to wake up in my own bedroom, looking out on my own backyard and drinking coffee I’ve prepared, the way I like it. I crave routine and normalcy. This year has been like too much Christmas.
I returned from Boston Monday night at 7:30 p.m., unpacked, repacked and found myself back at the airport at 7:30 a.m. the next morning for my flight to Tallahassee. I’ve spent every Halloween with Liam and his parents since he was born and we dress in a theme that Courtney decides. Year one, we were Peter Pan, Wendy, Captain Hook and Tinkerbell. Year two we were Scooby Doo and the Mystery Gang. And this year it was a Dinosaur/Jurrassic Park theme with Liam as the dinosaur, but he didn’t want to wear the costume, so at the last minute, the theme got switched to Toy Story.
Which is how I found myself at Party City at 8 o’clock at night, after my flight from Boston, looking for a red cowgirl hat to be Jesse (Toy Story 2). This was the night before Halloween and Party City was PACKED. As you walked in they said “Welcome to the party”, but anyone who got a glimpse of the endless line, felt like anything but partying. Luckily, the line went quick, I bought my hat and drove home to try and get some sleep.
I had my trusty carry-on and my red cowboy hat with me Tuesday as I sat in my window seat, waiting anxiously to take off for Tallahassee. Christopher had called me that morning to tell me Courtney was in labor. I was hoping the little munchkin could hang on until I got there, but I got a text from Courtney with a photo of her and the new baby at 9:15 a.m. He is my fourth grandson! 6 pounds 10 ounces, 18.75 inches, named (after much debate) Luke William Schild. He is beautiful.
When my sister-in-law heard I had a fourth grand baby on the way she kiddingly said:
You’re really getting a little greedy with all these grandchildren.
And as another friend (Leonor) texted me when I gave her the news: “You are really killing it in the grandma department!!!”
I told her: “I really have no control over it!”
I don’t have any control over that situation, but I do have control over my travel schedule and this last trip may have been my best this year, because I got to see my newborn grandson Luke on the very day he was born. I told my son Christopher, that now I will be coming every year, not just for Halloween, but a birthday party as well. Tomorrow I fly home and, God willing, I’ll be home for a while.
My last blog post was Tailgating 101 and I said, when Tailgating, you should represent your Home Team. Since I live in Miami and root for the University of Miami Hurricanes, I tried to think of the most Miami dish imaginable. That was a Cuban Sandwich. And then I thought of the delicious Tailgate Ham and Cheese Sandwiches my sister Kelley has brought to past Tailgates and I decided to try a Mash-Up of those sandwiches and Cuban Sandwiches.
The original Tailgate Ham and Cheese Sliders feature Slider Buns (like Hawaiian or Potato), with a spread of cream cheese inside and topped with a melted butter mixture, which has minced or dried onion, Worcestershire sauce and Parmesan or Dijon in it, depending on the recipe. Since I wanted to “Cuban” it up, I made my sammies with Sliced Smoked Ham, Roast Pork Slices, Swiss Cheese, Pickles and Mustard. To keep it more authentic, my topping was just melted, salted butter. I did add Everything Seasoning to the top of the buns, which isn’t authentic, but tastes good and adds some crunch.
I think they turned out great, but with the sweet Hawaiian rolls, it gave it more of a Media Noche vibe. If you wanted to stick with more of a traditional Cuban Sandwich theme, use regular slider rolls. I also found a Mini Cuban Buns, which would be perfect, but I’m not sure how easy they are to find.
I went the extra step and roasted a Pork Loin that had been marinated in homemade Mojo. This ensured a moist and flavorful sliced pork for the sandwiches. Marinate the pork tenderloin overnight in a mixture of 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup orange juice, 2 tablespoons of lime juice, 3 garlic cloves (minced), 1 teaspoon oregano and 1/2 teaspoon cumin. If you want to use Mojo (like Badia or Goya) from the grocery store, skip this step. Bake in a preheated 350 oven for 30 minutes, or until internal temp is 145 degrees. Let cool and thinly slice for sandwiches. *Note: I should have sliced mine a little thinner.
The beauty of these sammies is you can assemble them ahead and bake when you’re ready to serve. I made them in a disposable aluminum tray so clean-up was easy at the Tailgate. These sandwiches are delectable; the melty cheese, loads of ham and pork, toasted buttery tops and the acidic kick of the mustard and pickles makes for a delicious bitefull.
I would serve these Mini Cuban Sliders with an avocado and tomato salad and Plantain Chips. Croquettas or Empanadas could be easy appetizers, but I served veggies with Whipped Ricotta Dip. A cold, local Miami Craft Beer, Cuba Libre (Rum and Coke with lime) or Mojito would be perfect drinks to go with and make it a “Mucho” Miami experience. Shout out to the 305!
Super Cuban Tailgate Sandwiches
Recipe by gleeguilfordCourse: MainCuisine: TailgateDifficulty: Easy
1 package of Mini Sliders, sliced open
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 pound thinly sliced Smoked Ham (like Boars Head)
1 roasted pork tenderloin, thinly sliced
1 pound thinly sliced Swiss Cheese
1/4 stick salted Butter, melted
Everything Bagel Seasoning, optional
Cut rolls in half. Place bottoms in a 9 x 13 inch aluminum foil tray.
Place one slice of Swiss cheese on bottom of roll. Top with Smoked Ham Slices.
Top with slices of Roast Pork and then another layer of Swiss cheese.
Add hamburger pickles, trying to get in the sandwich circle area.
Spread yellow mustard on the top of the slider buns and put on top of the sandwich.
Brush melted butter on top of sandwich tops, making sure it goes into every nook and cranny. Add Everything Seasoning, if desired.
Place sandwiches in a preheated 350 degree oven and cook for 20 minutes, or until cheese has melted.
Remove from oven and either slice or pull apart to enjoy.
You can make these ahead the night before and put in the oven right before serving.
When I first started dating my now-husband Zeke in 2002, a widower with three little girls, he promised me one date night a week. His time was limited, but this was his commitment to me and our budding relationship. Fast forward to the Fall and Football season rolled around. Our “date nights” consisted of attending University of Miami Football games at the Orange Bowl, for which he had season tickets next to his Dad.
After a couple of weeks, I had to inform him that I didn’t consider attending a football game a “date night”. The food at the stadium was lousy and half the time, it wasn’t even at night. Since he wasn’t giving up his season tickets, he started making me dinner at his house on Sunday nights, which was a fine compromise. Even though a “date night” with three little girls underfoot was not always peaceful or romantic.
Now that we have no kids at home, every night can be a date night, and we’re still attending University of Miami Football games, although now at Hard Rock Stadium. Somewhere along the way, we gave up the horrible stadium food and started Tailgating before the games. My sister Kelley gave us a UM tent and we brought a folding table and chairs for the tailgate. Zeke even recently got a bigger car to accommodate all our Tailgating paraphernalia.
The first year of Tailgating, however, was trial and error. Since I’d never done it before, I had to try and remember everything that was required to Tailgate. Inevitably, some important items were forgotten, leading me to start making a list of everything I needed. There was one time we asked our friends Brooks and Sharon to the game. I brought three kinds of dip, but forgot the chips. What’s a dip without chips? John Schild, my brother-in-law, went out and bought a pack of Tostitos from a fellow tailgater for ten bucks, which saved the day.
Last week, while Tailgating, we had two people come up to our Tailgate who had forgotten items. One forgot the gas tank to start his grill- a pretty basic necessity. He offered to pay, but Zeke gave it to him for free. The other guy borrowed Pam spray for the grill. He brought it back with some grilled steak bits on a plate, a good trade in my book.
While it is a lot of work, everyone is in a festive mood at a Tailgate and, if you have a successful Tailgate, the day isn’t a total loss, even if your team loses. Which brings me to my blog today.
A folding table, chairs and a tent. I usually bring a throw-away tablecloth, with some clips to hold it in place.
A Grill. Don’t forget the gas attachment.
Grilling items– Spatula, tongs, a pot holder and lighter to light the grill.
Serving bowls and serving utensils.
A knife. You never know when you might need it.
A Cutting Board. Also comes in handy.
Cups, Napkins and Cutlery. I usually use paper and plastic, but bamboo or stainless cutlery could be used as well.
Paper Towels. Really come in handy, as do wipes.
Toothpicks come in handy, depending on what you’re serving so I just keep them in my picnic basket.
Hand Sanitizer. To wash off those nasty germs.
Drinks, in a cooler full of ice. Beer, Wine and Prosecco or whatever you want to drink. I like the little bottles of Prosecco for Tailgating. Apple juice and water for little Tailgaters and teetotalers.
A Beer Opener.
Coozies. For the beer.
I also like to pick a Theme for Tailgating.
Recently, we visited Tuscaloosa, Alabama for the Ole Miss vs. THE University of Alabama game. Country Club there serves the opposing team’s food, which I think is a nice idea, but we’re trying to represent the U here!
As such, Chilled Stone Crabs with mustard sauce, Grilled LobsterBites or Shrimp Cocktail would be much appreciated for a 305 crowd. One time we grilled Mahi and made Fish Tacos on flour tortillas, with slaw and spicy mayo. Skirt Steak with rice and black beans is a great idea, as are Cuban Sandwiches with croquettas and mini-flans. The drink of choice for these meals: Mojitos or Rum and Coke. Or Beer. You can never go wrong with beer at a Tailgate. It’s pretty much the official drink of Tailgating.
Sometimes games are at noon! For that Tailgate, a Brunch comes in handy. Mimosas, BloodyMarys or Cold Brewed Coffee with Bagels, Smoked Salmon and cream cheese are perfect fare. Or you could fry some eggs, bacon and sausage in a cast iron skillet. Fruit salad would be a welcome and healthy touch. For one noon game we made Huevos Rancheros, with refried beans and fried eggs on corn tortillas for Breakfast.
For October, I think Sausage Sandwiches with mustard on Pretzel Bread would be delicious, with some Beer Cheese (which is orange) and celery sticks. I like to have something green and orange at every UM home game, since it is the U’s colors. Serve the sausage sandwiches with an icy cold Octoberfest Beer; dessert could be an Apple Cake, cut into squares, Pumpkin Bread or Maple Donuts. Very Fall-y!
Other Green and Orange Appetizers I’ve made are baby carrots with snap peas, edamame and orange hummus, celery and sliced orange bell peppers. You could also make deviled eggs with chopped chives and orange caviar, if you want to get fancy.
Typical Tailgate Food like Hot Dogs and Hamburgers are always welcome with sides like Cole Slaw, Potato Salad, Baked Beans and Corn on the Cob. Make sure you keep anything that needs to be refrigerated on ice. We have a big cooler we bring for that, a Publix reusable bag for dry goods and a picnic basket for the tablecloth, serving utensils etc..
While I love chicken, chicken on the bone is hard to eat on your lap, so I would opt for a pounded-out chicken breasts, marinated and ready to grill and put on a bun. Don’t forget your fixin’s- like lettuce, tomato, sliced onions and condiments, if you serve sandwiches. One tailgate I did an Asian theme and served Spring Rolls, Potstickers, Lemongrass Chicken Wings, BeefBulgogi and a CabbageSlaw with Edamame and Cilantro.
Then, there was the year after the Pandemic, that Zeke was into all sorts of Kabobs on skewers, so we had Lamb Kofta, Chicken Breast Chunks and Vegetables on Skewers. Hummus was served with Pita chips for an appetizer and I served a Mediterranean Orzo Salad on the side. This worked out quite well, because most of the prep work was done ahead. I do like to relax and enjoy my own Tailgate a bit!
Of course, you don’t have to go all out for Tailgating.
For the first game of this year (against Miami, Ohio) we just got Subs from Subby’s and ate them with Chips in the car (while listening to Sports Radio). The second tailgate, I pre-cooked onions and bell peppers to go with Bratwurst, Knackwurst and Chicken Thighs we grilled. This made it easier since all we had to do is heat the onions and peppers up in the cast iron skillet. Rolls for the sausages, chips and fruit skewers rounded out the meal.
Another pre-made item that is great for Tailgating is Ham and Cheese Sandwiches on Hawaiian Rolls, which my sister Kelley has brought before. They are always a big hit and can be made ahead. While I love ribs, I don’t love them for Tailgating as they are too messy to eat easily. You don’t want Bar-B-Que sauce all over your Game Day outfit when you make your grand entrance!
Desserts should be easy to eat as well! Cookies, cupcakes or cakes cut into squares work great. Fruit Kabobs are also welcome, as a side or dessert. Served on bamboo skewers, clean up is a breeze. While Tailgating is typically about indulging, I always try to have something healthy on hand to eat. And while I usually like to recycle, for Tailgating I usually get items that can just be thrown away. Because it’s time to get to the game!
Bonus Points for:
Decorations on the table. Pom Poms, beads, etc.. I also have rocks with the U to hold down napkins.
A Speaker for Music. And a Game Day playlist: “Rock you like a Hurricane.”
Plates, cups, napkins with your team’s Logo.
A game to play, like Corn Hole or Football.
Most Forgotten Items:
Pam. Not a necessity, but you don’t want your food to stick.
Potholder. You can’t grab that cast iron skillet with your bare hands!
Garbage Bag. This is one thing I often forget.
A Lighter for the grill. “You can’t start a fire without a spark.”
Salt and Pepper. Everyone likes things seasoned differently.
Ziploc bags are good to bring to put leftovers in. I’m usually ready for a snack after a 4 hour game!
There is a start-up cost to tailgating, with the tent, chairs, table and grill. If you don’t want to invest in Tailgating supplies, my suggestion is the next best thing. Find a friend with a Tailgate and attend. Don’t forget to bring something fabulous to serve, so you’ll be invited back.
I tried this recipe months ago from a Food Blog I follow called Frugal Hausfrau and loved it so much, I’ve made it several times since. It is supposedly Keto-friendly if you make it with monk fruit, but I didn’t have any monk fruit, so I used honey. Also, one time I didn’t have any dried blueberries around, but did have fresh so used them and they dried up and worked perfectly.
The hardest part of this recipe is gathering the nuts, but it’s Fall now, so make like a squirrel and gather! I find the easiest (and cheapest) place to get nuts is my favorite TraderJoe’s. As a plus, they also carry the unsweetened coconut chips and dried blueberries called for, making it a one-stop shop.
Blueberry Nut Granola
Recipe by gleeguilfordCourse: Breakfast/SnackCuisine: American/KetoDifficulty: Medium
1 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut chips
1 1/4 cup sliced almonds
1 1/4 cup chopped pecans
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1 1/2 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 to 1/4 cup monk fruit (can substitute honey or agave)
1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
1/3 cup dried blueberries or 1/2 cup fresh
Preheat oven to 325. Adjust rack to middle rack and rack above.
On two large, light colored sheet pans covered with parchment paper, mix together all ingredients except the dried blueberries. If using fresh blueberries, they can be added at this time.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring every five minutes and rotating trays top to bottom and front to back.
Watch very carefully, especially the first time. Ovens vary in heat, intensity and circulation, which can affect timing.
Turn oven off, crack the door open, using an item to keep it open and inch or two. Once cool, remove trays from oven and remove the granola. Transfer to airtight container (I use big Mason jars)
If kept for any period of time, keep granola in fridge or freezer.
If using monk fruit as sweetener, don’t use aluminum foil or it will stick.
This granola is perfect as is, but can also be served with milk of your choice and fresh berries, such as strawberries, raspberries or more blueberries. It is also great on yogurt and ice cream.
(I realize this title could taken a couple ways. It’s not that we’re easy girls, it’s about how easy my last girl’s weekend was to plan and execute.) I recently had my 3rd Girl’s Weekend at my condo in the Sanctuary in Key Largo with my sisters Kelley and Elise and our childhood friend Chrissy Wells.
I would say it’s our Third Annual, but the first was 2019 and we didn’t meet in 2020, due to Covid. In 2021 we launched our toilet seat in the Toilet Bowl in the Bay with the words “Girl’s Weekend 2021, because 2020’s Been a Real S**t Show”, complete with a poop emoji. Last year, we couldn’t swing Girl’s Weekend since Chrissy had just started a new job as a Pickleball Pro in Naples and couldn’t take the time off.
But we were able to do a Girl’s Weekend this year- 2023- at my condo in Key Largo. In years past, I knocked myself out a bit with prepping, cleaning and cooking, so this year I was determined to plan a Girl’s Weekend as low-stress as possible. It’s my Girl’s Weekend too, after all! It came on the heels of my Book Club Meeting, so I already had some delicious Chipotle Rosemary Nuts, Summer Sangria and Key Lime Shortbread to bring to the weekend.
Girl’s Weekend started Friday around Happy Hour.
I’d gone down the day before to get things ready. I shopped, changed sheets, set fresh towels out, put little soaps and shampoos in the Guest Bathroom and set out a coconutpatty on each bed. Flowers from my Book Club Meeting were brought down and put in vases to spruce up the dining and living rooms, with white twinkly lights and shells adding to the ambiance. Pool toys and floats were unearthed, ready for play! I set the table with raffia placemats , tropical napkins and flower napkin rings. Pandora was playing Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, of course.
Since I’ve been on the hunt for the Best Conch Chowder in the Keys, I picked up pints of Conch Chowder from three restaurants to have a taste testing and choose our favorite. I picked up some Sourdough Bread you bake at home, at Publix to go along with it. I offered a Welcome Cocktail of Summer Sangria, Rose Prosecco and Sparkling or Still Water and set out an easy Charcuterie Platter.
*A note on cheese. I’d heard a new Trader Joe’s cheese- Fromage Pave Red Chili Pepper-was good so bought it, along with my beloved Toscano in Syrah. I tried a small slice the night before- cold and straight out of the fridge. It tasted like a cold, peppery bandaid. So Friday, I took the cheeses out an hour before serving and it made all the difference. Always let your cheeses come to room temp before serving. It lets the flavors ‘bloom”, especially with this type, a soft-ripened French cheese (like Brie) that’s flavored with jalapeno, cayenne and bell peppers. If you like soft cheeses and you like spicy, this is your cheese.
I served the cheeses with plain water crackers, strawberries, Chipotle Rosemary Nuts, dried apricots and truffle honey. Truffle honey makes anything better, as far as I’m concerned. We sipped, snacked and chatted, since it’s been two years since we were all together. We had our Conch Chowder Taste Testing, which I served in little cups for us all to taste, one by one, with sherry on the side. All the Conch Chowders were Award-Winning, so I was curious to see which one we liked the best.
Between Mrs. Mac’s, The Conch House and Key Largo Fisheries, the overwhelming favorite was Key Largo Fisheries Conch Chowder, but, ironically, it isn’t even made on sight! I served the Conch Chowder with warm Sourdough Bread and butter and a Green Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette.
After dinner, we went down to the chickee Hut to have a drink and watch the sunset. Back at the condo, dessert was a delicious Key Lime Pie Elise had made. We chatted for a while, hit the sack pretty early. I was the first one up the next day, so I set up breakfast.
Coffee before everything (of course!), Orange juice, water with sliced strawberries and cucumber, three kinds of berries, yogurt, Homemade Granola, Blueberry Banana Bread and Eggs, Bacon and Bread for anyone that wanted it with butter and homemade Mango Jam.
Since I love doing yoga, especially in the Keys, I’d requested everyone bring their yoga mats and we did an easy Beginner’s Yoga (Boho Beautiful) in the Living Room. Everyone enjoyed this healthy wake-up to our day and then we got dressed and went Thrifting, another one of my favorite things to do in the Keys (much to my husband’s dismay).
We hit a couple stores I like to visit in the Keys- ReStore and Salvation Army– first. Chrissy, who was totally unsure about the thrifting idea, found a tureen and platter to match her sister’s very hard-to-find china pattern, for twenty bucks. Sweet! We also visited Jolene’s, which I’d never been to before. It’s a consignment store, with new and used things. Thrifting was fun- we all came home with treasures- and we’d worked up an appetite for lunch.
Lunch was the very easy “Make Your Own Sandwich.” I love sandwiches, so got the makings for a variety of options, with Sourdough and Whole Wheat Bread, mustard and mayo. I’d cooked some bacon that morning and had tomatoes and lettuce, in case anyone wanted a BLT. I also got sliced Boars Head Turkey Meat and Swiss cheese, with a slice avocado from my tree, creating a wide range of sandwich possibilities. Cape Cod Potato Chips and HomemadePickles were the sides, with Iced Tea and Sparkling or Plain water to drink.
The afternoon was left for Free Play– Paddleboarding, Swimming, Reading or Napping (I choose the latter) and then we were off to dinner at the newly remodeled Marker 88. Dinner was good (I opted for sushi) and we were back home and in bed relatively early. This Girl’s Weekend was not a wild one! Maybe we’re too old to do wild.
The next morning, Kelley and Elise went Paddle Boarding, while Chrissy went to do WaterAerobics in the pool and I stayed home and read. For our Farewell Meal, Kelley had made an Eggplant Parmesan for lunch. I’d done a whole Spaghetti Dinner the first year of our Girl’s Weekend and it almost wiped me out, so thought I’d be easy on myself and pre-make the Eggplant Parm. Kelley volunteered to make it (our Aunt Josie’s recipe) making it even easier on me! Elise made a salad with avocado, tomatoes and red onion and I made garlic bread with the leftover sourdough bread. As my mother always says: “Many hands make light work.”
Doggy Bags (for husbands and boyfriends) were packed up, hugs were had and we all said goodbye for another year. Or two. We’ll see. I do know this was the easiest Girl’s Weekend I’ve ever had. Here are my tips to stress-free entertaining.
*Girl’s Weekend Tips*
Send out an invite or Evite with the Time, Place and Activities planned. This lets your guests know what to expect, what to bring and gets them excited about the weekend.
If possible, arrive at the location one day early to shop, clean, prepare and decompress. Doing it all in one day is exhausting.
Pre-cook as much as possible, so you’re not spending time in the kitchen. I made the Chipotle Rosemary Nuts, Blueberry Banana Bread and Granola ahead.
Don’t forget the special touches. Folded towels next to fresh soap, fresh flowers, scented candles and a coconut patty on the bed all make your guests feel pampered.
Eat out at least once or twice during Girl’s Weekend. You don’t want to spend the weekend in the kitchen!
Let people help. If someone offers to bring something you need, say yes. Elise supplied dessert Friday night, Kelley made the entree for Sunday. This made it easier on me and let my guests feel engaged and appreciated.
Do activities you enjoy. While none of my guests had done Yoga recently, they all enjoyed it and Thrifting was a hit as well. The weekend is about catching up with old friends, but also about introducing your latest hobbies, activities and passions to friends.
Make it easy on yourself. For breakfast, I set out a variety of items and Make Your Own Sandwich was a hands-on, easy-peasy lunch. Since I wasn’t sure of what people could eat (last time we gathered Chrissy ate no meat) I wanted to have options available.
Go with the flow. One never knows what the weekend will bring. While you want to have a schedule, also be open to the chance to go off on a tangent and explore.
Don’t forget to-go containers for your guests to take leftovers. They will appreciate it and their S.O. will be more inclined to let them attend the next Girl’s Weekend!
I just realized maybe I should be less worried about anyone mistaking us for “easy girls” than the fact that I’m calling us “girls” at all, since most of us are past 60 (except Elise). But my Grandmother and Aunts called each other girls till the day they died, so I’m going with that philosophy. Girls forever! Born to be mild.
I like to try out new recipes at least once before serving them a parties, so I tried this Ina Garten recipe, from her Make It Ahead cookbook, for Zeke and I for dinner a week before I served it to my Book Club. In the book, The Five Star Weekend, the hostess serves a Squash and Goat Cheese Tart with Mint, so I figured this Zucchini and Goat Cheese Tart of Ina’s was close enough. I’ve never tried and Ina recipe I didn’t like, although some are better than others.
I made the recipe exactly as is, except for the fact I substituted the fresh thyme leaves with fresh mint leaves. While I usually use Pillsbury pie crusts in the red package, this tart dough – made with vinegar and ice water- was actually quite easy to make and it tasted delicious.
There are many upsides to this recipe:
1) You can make it ahead and bake at the last minute.
2) It looks beautiful, but isn’t hard to make. Your guests will be impressed!
3) It tastes delicious.
I tried to have a “Summery” meal for the Book Club and zucchini is definitely one of the “Vegetable Stars” of Summer (along with corn and tomatoes). While it says it serves 6, I cut it into smaller portions since we had Shrimp Salad and bread to go with it. It’s Summer until September 23rd, so enjoy these last couple weeks with this summery dish.
Zucchini & Goat Cheese Tart
Recipe by gleeguilfordCourse: EntreeCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Medium
1 1/2 pound zucchini, unpeeled and sliced 1/8 inch thick
2 tablespoons good olive oil, divided
8 ounces plain creamy goat cheese at room temperature
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Place flour, 3/4 teaspoon salt and the butter in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse 12 to 14 times, until butter is the size of a pea.
With the processor running, pour the vinegar and ice water through the ffed tube and continue to process and pulse until the dough just comes together.
Dump out on a floured board, form into a disk, wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the zucchini in a colander set over a plate. Toss it with 2 teaspoons of salt and set aside for 30 minutes.
Spread the zucchini out on a clean dish towel, roll it up and squeeze gently to remove some of the liquid.
Put the zucchini slices into a bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
With a fork, mash together the goat cheese, thyme, lemon zest, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and set aside.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll the dough out onto a floured board to a 11-inch circle and place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.
Spread the dough with the goat cheese mixture, leaving a 1/2 inch border.
Lay the zucchini slices in tightly overlapping circles, starting at the very edge of the pastry. Continue overlapping circles of zucchini until the whole tart is covered.
Drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until the dough is golden brown. Cut in wedges and serve hot, warm or at room temperature.
Choose zucchini that have similar diameters so the slices will be uniform. Slice by hand or with a mandolin.
To Make It Ahead: Roll out the dough and assemble the tart. Cover and refrigerate for up to 4 hours. Bake.
To make an 11-inch circle, roll the dough to 12 or 13 inches in diameter, fold in quarters and trim the edges with a sharp knife. When you unfold the pastry, it will be a circle.
Looking back at this recipe, it’s a lot of steps but the tart comes together quickly. You could make the dough the day before, assemble in the morning and bake right before serving, which is what I did for my Book Club Party. The other nice thing about this dish is you can serve it cold, hot or room temperature.
Summer may be endless in Miami, but Miami Spice is not.
There are three weeks left to get your Spice on and despite my best intentions (paving the way to hell) I’ve only been to ONE Miami Spice. That was Beauty & the Butcher in South Miami at the very beginning of August with friends. I am running out of time, but determined to do at least one or two more, before Miami Spice is over! Eating House is on the top of my Miami Spice Wish List.
The reason I haven’t tried more is being out of town- to D.C. for a lovely wedding and San Antonio for a long-delayed trip from 2019 to see the Alamo. Throw in a couple Girl’s Weekends in the Keys and U.M. football games and time is running out. I did have the most delicious dessert at a restaurant named Lutece in Georgetown, which I tried to replicate at home for dinner guests. Below is the original and my attempt at home.
Our server recommended it, with the caveat that it sounds weird but works and he was so right! It was a semi-fredo (like soft-serve) vanilla ice cream with Honeycomb crumbles and shaved Comte cheese on top. It does sound weird, but it was darned delicious, one of the best desserts I’ve ever eaten! The smooth, creamy ice cream, was topped with crunchy, gold honeycomb, which shattered into sticky shards; the silky and nutty shavings of the cheese added a bit of unexpected lusciousness and funk.
My attempt to re-create it at home was quite successful. This is a dessert I could eat all day. The ice cream I made was a simple vanilla custard (with vanilla bean) and my husband proclaimed it his favorite of all the ice creams I’ve made, but he is a vanilla guy.
Speaking of ice cream, Salt + Straw is coming to Miami Beach with a special ice cream served at the opening called Pistachio Dark Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwich! It’s pistachio gelato and dark cherry buttercream with an olive oil and chocolate pistachio cookie. To gild the lily, it’s topped with truffle fudge and gold leaf bourbon caramel. It’s a limited edition.
I’m also on the mailing list for Sweet Melody Ice Cream in Coral Gables, which has amazing-sounding rotating flavors, such as “I’ll Be Baklava“- a Rose Water and Marscapone Ice Cream with brown butter, toasted phyllo dough and honey-covered pistachios and almonds. Wowza! Azucar is another Ice Cream option with a new location in Pinecrest. Gourmet Ice Cream shops are flourishing in South Florida, while good old Dairy Queen on US-1 just closed. Whip ‘N Dip is hanging in there.
In other restaurant news, Harry’s Pizzeria in Coconut Grove is back with their CubanSandwich Pizza. This was a special pizza which Harry’s owner Michael Schwartz teamed up with Versailles in January 2019 to create; it was only available for one month. It was so popular, they are bringing it back. It’s a white pizza topped with Roasted Pork, glazed Ham, Bread and Butter Pickles, Fontina and Gruyere cheeses and mustard sauce. It’s topped with a croquetta and is quite delicious. It’s available September 1st through September 30th. Maybe, if it’s a hit, they’ll put it on the regular menu.
We attended the first U.M. Game against Miami, Ohio last Saturday. Luckily, we won and I always love the excitement of the first game. We took Subby’sSubs to eat in the car before the game at 7. Subby’s is a new Sub shop, with Hot & Cold Subs, located in South Miami. They have Chicken Subs, Steak Subs, Hot Subs and you can make any small sub a wrap, which I did with my Roast Beef and Cheese Sub. You can also customize your sub, order online and they deliver. My wrap was very good and they don’t skimp on the meat. Served daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
We finally went to check out a house for sale in Pinecrest, near my friend Christian. It was a two-story that reminded me of the Brady Bunch house, down to the lack of bathrooms and a major need of an update. The yard and pool were nice but the Master Bedroom was tiny, with a miniscule closet and a one-sink bathroom. I can’t see myself living there. Even Mike and Carol Brady might object.
I, like most of the rest of the world, was shocked to hear Jimmy Buffet died. A speaker at a meeting for South Florida Writers I attended Saturday blasely mentioned it and I was like: “What? I didn’t even know he was sick.”
But I think that is quite like Jimmy Buffet to not want people to treat him differently because he was ill. He always wanted to keep the party going, not end it, so he dealt with his diagnosis privately. Jimmy Buffet’s music is synonymous with the Florida Keys, so of course, we often turned our Pandora in our condo to Margaritaville. And most any restaurant in the Keys that has music will feature some Jimmy Buffet tunes.
While best known for his music, he was quite the Renaissance Man. A pilot, boater, writer, philanthropist, poet and businessman, he was that lucky guy who was blessed with creative and business smarts, a combo not easy to find. He turned his “laid-back” persona and extensive song list into an enterprise that made a boatload of dinero. But, it was his fun-loving, optimistic & generous vibe that came through on stage. With all the tributes from fellow musicians and regular people flowing in, he was truly loved and not just by Parrot Heads. He was, in the end, a person who valued his family and friends above all the rest.
I gave my parents tickets to one of his concerts in the ’80’s at Miami Marine Stadium for their anniversary. They had a great time. There were Parrot Heads galor, in the stands, on boats and in the water at this concert by the bay, singing along to his songs. Nine years ago, Zeke and I attended a Fundraiser forthat very Miami Marine Stadium at the Coral Gables Museum. Jimmy Buffet played a private mini-concert there with a couple tunes and it was a blast. Gloria Estephan joined him to sing Margaritaville as his last song. Pictured below is a photo of his daughter at the Fundraiser, with me behind her a friend sent. And a Margarita!
It still doesn’t seem like he’s gone, but I guess as long as we have his music he’s never really far away. As for me, I can’t wait for my travels to end so I can go to my “happy place” in Key Largo, make myself a Margarita, look out at the bay and listen to some Jimmy Buffet tunes. Dear Jimmy: “I hope you’re enjoying the scenery, I know that it’s pretty up there.”
And now I must confess I could use some rest I can’t run at this pace very long Yes, it’s quite insane Think I hurt my brain But it cleans me out, then I can go on.
Jimmy Buffet, Trying to Reason with Hurricane Season