Leftovers have such a wonderful role to play.  They can spark your imagination and provide ready made components to what would be a really complex meal!  Today, my husband is at a meeting and coming home for lunch.  We have nothing really prepared and not enough of any one leftover to count as a meal....and I'm STARVING, so petit plates aren't going to cut it! I looked in the fridge, and we had some home made Bolognese (meat) sauce from a few days ago, I had some roasted Chinese Eggplant from my visit to the farmer's market and we had eggs.....presto change-o....Eggplant parm frittata :)

I roasted the eggplants in a 400 degree oven a few days ago with olive oil, salt and pepper for about 15 minutes until they smelled yummy...very scientific way to cook!

The meat sauce was actually a grab as you go...onions and garlic and butter and olive oil until the onions were translucent, add ground beef, salt, pepper, spices of your choosing and let it cook for a bit.  Add an 8 oz can of diced tomatoes, an 8 oz can of tomato sauce and a tablespoon of tomato paste and let that simmer. I then added A LOT of cilantro from the farmer's market visit because we LOVE cilantro.....you can sub some basil or leave it out entirely. 

Ok, now to assemble the frittata. 
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat up olive oil and butter in a non stick skillet, then place the eggplants you had already roasted in a fan pattern, let it sizzle. Then drizzle the meat sauce over it and let that sizzle. I sprinkled some flour into the meat sauce to help it firm up.  Then whip up 5-8 eggs depending on how thick you want your frittata and add salt/pepper to your taste and pour over the meat sauce layer.  Place the lid on your skillet and then place in your 350 degree oven for only 10 minutes! Let it cool a bit and then flip the skillet onto a plate and wiggle it until its in the middle of the plate ; )

Here's what you get!
By the way...sprinkle some parmesan cheese on top for the title to hold true. I don't have any at the moment, so we are going to do without.

One thing we all love about summer is the bounty of fruits and veggies, right?! As it was very hot last week, I took the opportunity to make a really refreshing summer fruit gazpacho.  I know its more typical to make gazpacho from vegetables, but my husband and I have had some amazing versions with all sorts of fruits and they have truly inspired me! The recipe for this particular one will include a juicy mini watermelon and some fresh ripe peaches as the main ingredients. Then to round out the flavor, I supplemented with some amazing heirloom tomatoes and a variety of peppers I roasted in the oven to get a yummy smoky depth of flavor!

Get some ripe peaches and gorgeous tomatoes....ours are from the wonderful farmer's market nearby.....
Simmer them in hot water for 2 minutes, then shock them in a bowl of ice water.  That process allows you to peel the peaches and tomatoes so easily without losing any of the flesh of the fruits!
Now chop everything up.......and feel free to plant the pits and grow a peach tree!
While you do all this go ahead and put some assorted peppers ( I chose Poblanos and Cayennes ) under the broiler in your oven, continuously turning them.....
Once scorched, put them in a bowl and cover with plastic and let them steam, again this helps you remove the skin.
Remove the skins and seeds once they cool and throw them into the blender with everything else....watermelon, peaches, tomatoes, peppers, herbs ( I chose cilantro and dill) and whiz it all up!  After that, blend in some extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper to your taste and chill for a few hours.  I topped mine off with a little dill creme fresh that I made using dill, lime zest and juice, yogurt and sour cream all whisked together! yummy! cools of the heat from the cayenne peppers we have in the gazpacho. 
Drumroll please......

Finished product!
A few weeks ago my husband and I made the cross country move to California's wonderful Bay Area! We did it the right way too, we drove! We stopped in some of this countries most amazing, spectacular, awe inspiring, breathtaking vistas and had an absolutely unforgettable time together! There are going to be a lot of exclamations points in this entry because it really was the trip of a lifetime.  You see, just before moving....and I mean JUST BEFORE moving, we also took 2 weeks to explore Scotland, France and England.  We got to see old friends, drive through the highlands of Scotland and lounge around in the wine country of Bourguigon eating cheese and drinking some of the best wine you could ever imagine!  
Started in London.....
Then we were off to Scotland! Edinburgh first...
Even found the little pub my father used to go to in Grad school.....
And then off we go to France!
The day after we flew home, we met the movers, packed up our apartment and began our drive.  We saw landmarks, gazed upon the beautiful countryside and saw the spectacular Grand Tetons!  I cannot describe the majesty. 

In any case, that brings me back to the fact that WE HAVE MOVED! We finally made it to the place we have been waiting to be for the entire time we have known each other. 
Needless to say, there are a lot of things going on right now, trying to settle in, get accustomed to our new jobs and new apartment and so on.  That is the reason that this, my first California post is not an amazing 5 course meal, but instead a simple little pound cake that I made for my husband to make happy after a night shift : )

Please do not compare the little humble pound cake to the photos above! Once we get more of our pots and pans unpacked I will have much more profound photos to share!

For now, please enjoy and if you want the recipe, it is at allrecipes.com 

Ok, we all know the true meaning of "Christmas"…. I am not talking about that…. I am talking about X-mas…the holiday celebrating cookies, gingerbread houses, evergreens decorated with lights and lots of presents! Not quite as profound, but hey…in mine, you get to make layered jello shots!  Keep reading….these are so fun!

Lets begin with this lovely evergreen.  This Douglas Fir gave its life for us to enjoy our X-Mas. I wanted to do it justice!
Above, the end product all lit up! 
Below, the bits and scraps the tree-man cut off the base….
I turned those into a lovely wreath and a small but also lovely garland :) 
Here are some lovely gifts we found under the tree….the bows were made out of the wrapping paper itself by my lovely husband and myself.  Who knew we had such a creative bow-making side ?! Necessity is the mother of invention as they say, and we were out of ribbon!
Of course there is no X-mas without my Aunt Carolyn's family recipe for Christmas cookies! This year is no exception.
And of course, here's the fun jello shot that I told you about.  I found this recipe on Pinterest and it actually came out perfectly!

Ask anyone who has ever had a thanksgiving dinner, and had the option of having it at their house or someone else's and you will inevitably hear, "Let's have it here….that way WE get the leftovers!" And rightfully said! One should always strive to have Thanksgiving leftovers in the home! There are SO many things to make, and here are a few we made this year.

The Classic….the never beaten…..the Sandwich!
Layers of cold thick sliced turkey breast, chilled cranberry sauce, some sautéed veggies and a slathering of gravy on each side of our toasted --Challah in our case :) -- bread! Yum Yum!

Of course, you can get more creative and use the dark meat in something that lends itself well to a flavorful, dark meat…. MEATBALLS! I used the stuffing as the "bread crumb mixture" that you would usually use for meatballs. It works great!

And really, anything you can use chicken as a protein you can substitute in your very flavorful Thanksgiving bird!
Chicken Pot Pie, transform into Turkey Pot Pie. Combine your turkey with chopped veggies, Take a skillet and add some butter, flour, salt, pepper and milk that you make into a white sauce into your pyrex pan and bake with your favorite crust on top!
I used left over pie crust from my pecan pie. I had put it in the freezer and thawed it, rolled it out and placed on top of the chicken and veggie mixture. 
Along with the above, we made a stock from the turkey bones and some onions, herbs, lots of salt and simmered for a few hours on the stove. I used this stock to make a yummy veggie soup later on in December and have some in the freezer to use again later.  
Ok, so Thanksgiving and Hannukah will not happen on the same date again for a little over 77,000 years! So lets make this special! Once again my husband and I are doing it for 2 but acting like we are feeding an army!  A frequent theme in our celebrations.  We consider it practice for the day that we hopefully do need to feed the whole family in our dream home with our dream yard, the dog, the kids…..you get the picture.
Some of the items on this years holiday table were very embracing of the Jewish culture, such as our stuffing which began with a home made challah loaf!
And then add the usual players of sausage, sautéed carrot, celery and onion, and for a nice personal touch, we added some apples and sage.  Turned out scrumptious!
And then, some…..not so much.  For instance, the bacon covered star of the show!  This may not be kosher, but it is definitely tasty! This is how my dad has done it since I can remember and it is how I will always do it!
Just wait until you see this beautiful bird all roasted up! Now, lessons learned from last year…..the skin on the bird was a bit splotchy with only the bacon.  I realized this is because I take the bacon off for the last 10 min or so of roasting, and since the bacon fat was irregularly spaced with the meat of the bacon, the browning becomes a bit irregular.  Solution? Yes! Baste with some olive oil (NOT BUTTER because butter has water mixed with fat and hence will once again give you an irregular browning!!) since olive oil is purely oil, no irregularity and perfect browning! GREATEST TIP EVER, right?!

Gotta have the usual cranberry sauce, mine has a lot of citrus zest in it and I would not trade it for any canned commodity! 
We also had some not so usual players for the special event of the two holidays occurring on the same day! Here's the best combo ever….sweet potato Kugel!
But we also loved the combo of Pecan pie ingredients with the traditional dessert of Rugelach! 
Here they are amongst the whole spread!

Pecan Pie


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Well what is there to say about Pecan Pie…..it is SWEET and gooey and yummy and gone in a flash! This pie is one that I had never eaten (other than the little pecan pie cups you buy at the grocery store…which after making the actual pie I can say without doubt….ARE NOT PECAN PIE!) and I had never made either.  My very crafty friend Katy who has a wonderful blog of all her crafty creations Katy Did It, brought up the idea of trying this fall classic together and that's just what we did!  

For the recipe, we looked online and compared different versions and made decision to use The Pioneer Woman's recipe.  She never disappoints when it comes to baked goods and having never made this before, I can tell you we were not about to invent our own recipe!
That's exactly how it looked coming out of the oven! No filter on that shot at all!  A thing of beauty indeed :)
Can you tell who scooped out the brown sugar? Crafty people do all things in a cute way is my experience! We also measured out how many whole pecans we would need to make the top pretty before going about chopping up the rest of the pecans for the recipe.  
Here it is all ready to go in the oven…..
And here is Katy documenting the momentous occasion!
After it came out, the recipe said to wait 2 hours to overnight to allow it to cool and not be runny inside when you slice.  Ya, we didn't do that!  I think we sat on our hands and looked at it for about 45 min or so before giving in and digging in! Although the recipe is right….if you do this it is like hot lava inside….I still say it was worth it!  After it cooled overnight I sliced up a piece for my husband and I realized it was almost all gone, so I snapped a photo of it as quickly as I could!
And shortly thereafter, there was none!  I hope you all make one of these this holiday and enjoy! 
Sometimes when you are on a string of working overnights, it can be difficult to remember to eat well!  You basically go to work in rush hour when everyone else is bopping in their car, happy to be going home, get to the hospital before dinner time and end up STARVING by the time midnight rolls around.  This is a perfect setting in which to go down to the hospital cafeteria and devour anything and everything fried the line cook is making for the hungry staff!  This is the way I did things when I had overnight call in the hospital.....and call me crazy, but I want something better for my husband who is doing this now.  I want him to come home to yummy snacks and quick bites, and leave for work completely satiated and satisfied and avoid the midnight-fry-fest that tempts all healthcare workers around the country!

Tonight's solution for this was homemade chowder!  This recipe is an adaptation of the following recipe from All Recipes.  Where you see clam juice, I used chicken stock; where you see clams, I used shrimp which I roasted in the oven as such:
-Toss tail on peeled and deveined shrimp with a couple tablespoons of olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper and roast at 400 degrees for about 8 minutes or until they are pink.  
Easiest way to get flavorful shrimp ever!  Then just chop up the shrimp and add it to the "chowda"

Oh, and for the final (and my most favorite) adjustment...where you see celery, I used APPLES! It came to me because as previous posts may have led you to believe, we have far too many apples in our home right now...and the fact that neither my husband nor myself are all that keen on celery.  It turned out absolutely wonderful.  The texture of the apples I used stayed firm with cooking and served well in that regard.  The most wonderful part, however, was the unplanned perfect pairing of the sweetness given to the chowder by the apple and the inherent sweetness of the roasted shrimp.  This recipe is absolutely one of my favorites and one I am sure to make again!  Just goes to show you that you should always experiment with your recipes and make them your own!
Below you'll find all the veggies and potatoes simmering together just before I added the milk.  Oh, I forgot to mention, instead of heavy cream, I used lowfat milk and again, this was a great substitution as it was still VERY creamy!  I can't imagine how heavy it would have been had I used the cream it called for in the first place!
And here it is with the creamy milk mixture and roasted shrimp added!
Ok, time to go have seconds! 
As the weather gets cooler, the sweaters are unpacked and the ER I work in begins testing for carbon monoxide (get your detectors checked everyone!!).....so comes the season of PIE!  My husband's favorite!  I love making pie from scratch, and while I don't have my own crust recipe quite yet, there are plenty out there and here is the one I used....
The Joy of Baking always has fun recipes.  I had also really wanted to try an all butter crust as I usually have made a half shortening/half butter variety.  The consensus is that butter gives you flavor and flakiness and shortening gives you tenderness to your crust.  I have to say, this one is definitely a house favorite and I think I'm now converted to an "all butter" gal myself now!
Here's the only piece that would come out of the pan without breaking! VERY flaky crust!  I wanted a rustic look to it this time, so I did not layer the apples in an orderly fashion...I just lumped them all in there and let them fall where they may.
My first lattice crust!  VERY PROUD!
With a little adornment of course, crust leaves for the ultimate fall touch :)
I hope it comes through these pictures how incredibly flaky this crust was!  
My husband and I definitely have a sweet tooth. We may even go to restaurants, look at the desserts and then decide on dinner based on how rich the desserts we want to finish with happen to be!  We love cake, pie, donuts and on and on. Since we went to the orchard on a weekday, therefore avoiding all the crowds, we also happened to be there when they WERE NOT frying up apple fritters! This is a major disadvantage to going on a weekday and avoiding all the crowds.  We are quite resourceful people, however, and if you can't eat fried apple stuff at the orchard, eat fried apple stuff at home!   This was our first foray into deep frying, and well, it won't be the last! It went really well :)  
My best friend had sent me a recipe for apple cider donuts and we decided there is no better time than the first chill day of fall to try this scrumptious recipe out at home! We made sure all the smoke alarms were off (kidding about this!) and the fire extinguisher was in close reach and we went to town deep frying these yummy donuts! 
They look good right?! Pretty convincing donuts if I do say so myself! Here's the process....no fire and no limbs lost in the frying that day!
This particular moment, we wanted to eat them so badly it was just about all I could do to take these pictures!  I really need to work on setting up the shot BEFORE cooking, then putting the food item into the shot.  I am going to work on this as my next goal....better composed pics of donuts next time, that's my promise!

Oh, and in case you don't want to fry up donuts but you want to make a sweet apple treat.....I did also make an Apple Ricotta Coffee Cake that was just amazing!  Again, not my recipe, but absolutely loved it!  Turned out light, fluffy, crumbly on top and just perfect.  I will say, it calls for oats in the crumb layer and I didn't have any, so I did without and it did not compromise the flavor or texture at all.  Nice and crumbly on top and moist with chunks of crunchy yet tender apples in the middle! YUM....ENJOY!