Five Tips for Thanksgiving Success and a Giveaway!

This year for Thanksgiving, I’m inviting all my local friends who don’t have any family in the area. It’s going to be a potluck, of sorts, which means I’m giving up control of a large portion of the meal. I’m making the turkey, stuffing, gravy and mashed potatoes (okay and some martinis and a cranberry sauce). Everyone else is bringing the rest. I’ve done Thanksgiving dinner for many years now, and wanted to share my tips for success.

1. BRINE THE BIRD: Yes, it’s a little work ahead of time (not that much) and yes, you have another couple steps with the turkey, but it makes the turkey OMG tender. I buy the giant Ziploc bags for the turkey when I can’t find brining bags, and do it the day before. I swear, you could roast that turkey for twenty hours and it would still be tender. Brining is worth it. trust me. If you want to know how I do it (there are all kinds of variations), I have my brining recipe on my blog.

2. PLAN AHEAD: I’m starting my Thanksgiving plan today. I’ll shop tomorrow, and I have a whole long Me and Mandy after making pies 2012list of what needs to be done and when (I keep last year’s plan in a folder so I’m not reinventing the wheel every time). A list, along with a timeline, makes it a LOT easier.

3. DON’T BE A CONTROL FREAK: It’s okay to let your friends and family help. To let your mother-in-law peel the potatoes or your kids roll out the pie crust, or even let someone else make the green beans. Stick to your one main thing (the bird for me) and don’t stress about the rest. Me and Mandy after making pies 2012 (me and my daughter after we finished making pies :-)

4. ENJOY THE DAY: If you plan ahead, you won’t have much to do when guests arrive (except for slicing the turkey, which should rest after it’s done roasting, so even that can be done just before everyone arrives and covered with foil). I try to have everything done and made (mashed potatoes in the crock pot, stuffing in the oven, pies done the day before) at least an hour before guests arrive. Then I’m enjoying a glass of wine with my friends and family when the bird is done.

5. IT’S JUST A MEAL: I learned that lesson the year my husband made the pumpkin pie we were bringing to dinner (this is before I took over, LOL) and added salt instead of sugar. Yeah. I have had stuffings that were too dry. I have forgotten to buy potatoes. Run out of ice, burned the pies. In the end, it’s just a meal, and I’m not going to take it too seriously. Enjoy the friends and family, and don’t sweat the small stuff. After all, there is always dessert (and if it’s been ruined by too much salt, hopefully you saved some Halloween candy! :-)


 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Easy Peanut Butter Cup Fudge

I needed a reaPeanut Butter Cup Fudge2son to make fudge. Okay, I didn’t really NEED a reason–more like an excuse 😉 I can’t eat an entire platter of fudge myself (well, I can and uh, I have, but I SHOULDN’T). So when this recipe for Peanut Butter Cup Fudge with Reese’s came up, I couldn’t resist. I shared it on Facebook, found a couple friends who wanted some, and there was my excuse 😉 It was for my friends, I swear!Peanut Butter Fudge

I made two batches. One for home and one for friends (hey, I should taste it first, and make sure it’s a winning recipe before giving to my friends, right?_. And I’ve already had like thirty pieces. Should have just made one batch! But that just means there’s more to go around (and more for me to eat!).

And FWIW, I had nothing to do with that stolen truckload of Hershey’s in Florida. Not. A. Thing.

Excuse me while I dispose of some candy wrappers 😉



Making Leftover Turkey Yummy Again

Here’s a great recipe from my great friend Donna Alward, with a fun suggestion for leftovers! I’m putting this on my list for the week’s dinners!

She also has a wonderful, heartwarming book out this month, just in time for Christmas! If you’re looking for a book that will give you a little extra dose of holiday spirit, pick up A Cadence Creek Christmas! And now, without further ado, Donna’s recipe for leftover turkey!

9780373742660_LPIt’s always a conundrum in our house. How much turkey can you eat until you’re sick of it? This time of year in particular, there’s Thanksgiving Turkey soon to be followed by Christmas Turkey. (Incidentally, I love that Canadian Thanksgiving is in October, so we have a bigger gap between those holidays. I’m not too proud to shop at your Black Friday specials, though!)

We have the traditional turkey dinner, and then there are  Hot Turkey Sandwiches the next day. Then there might be Turkey Fried Rice and spring rolls, or Turkey Pot Pie. One of our favorite recipes, though is even easier and really tasty. And my husband, who normally SHUNS anything that is a casserole (except lasagna or scalloped potatoes), admits it’s one of his favorites too. The great thing is you can use whatever vegetables your family likes.



That’s right. I said Mr. Noodle.

1 tbsp olive oil

2 pkgs Chicken flavor Mr. Noodle

3 cups chopped turkey

2 cans cream of chicken soup

2 cans water

½ diced onion, ½ cup diced celery, 1 cup sliced mushrooms (all three optional)

2 cups frozen veg – peas, mixed veg, whatever your preference


2 cups chopped broccoli

1 cup breadcrumbs with ½ cup parmesan cheese (you can sub bread crumbs for your preferred crunchy topping)

Directions: Saute onion, celery and mushrooms in olive oil until softened. Add turkey to heat through. Stir in cream of chicken soup, water, bouillon from the Mr. Noodle packets, and vegetables. Once it’s heated through, break up your noodles and add to the mixture, stirring to coat noodles with sauce.

Once the noodles are a bit softened, turn the mixture into a casserole sprayed with non-stick spray. Top with the bread crumbs and cheese and bake at 375 for 35-40 min.

The recipe goes together so fast you should still have time to pick up my latest book and see what’s happening in Cadence Creek – mainly a wedding, a week before Christmas. Here’s the blurb:

 It’s Christmas in Donna Alward’s Cadence Creek…

Taylor Shepard has come to Cadence Creek to organize her brother’s Christmas wedding. Organizing such a special event might be a little bit stressful – but she can’t deny she’s swept away by the town’s holiday charm…and by brooding rancher Rhys Bullock. 

Loner Rhys has been burned far too many times in the past. He’s sure he has city girl Taylor all figured out -she’ll be hightailing it straight back to the city in a few days! But as the snow starts to fall, Rhys and Taylor embark on a tentative winter romance. Could Taylor be the Christmas present Rhys never even knew he wanted?

Donna’s website

Twitter: @DonnaAlward