Thursday, December 8, 2011

Jenny asks: Do you have any stocking stuffers ideas?

Great question, Jenny, as I love stuffing the stockings and definitely miss being young enough to have Santa leave one for me!  The stockings were always the first thing we were allowed to open in the morning when I was growing up.  I like to keep "stuffers" simple and fun... (unless, of course, Mr. Claus is stuffing a stocking for Mrs. with a new diamond ring!).

In additions to a special chocolate Santa, here's some ideas...
  • Stickers
  • Personalized pencils
  • Trading cards
  • Fun button or pin
  • Fuzzy slipper socks or fun socks
  • Art supplies
  • Makeup, hair ties/clips
  • Costume jewelry
  • Silly Putty or a Slinky
  • Mittens or gloves
  • A journal
  • A puzzle book
  • Cologne/perfume
  • Matchbox cars
  • Mini Lego set
  • A book of Lifesavers
Create a coupon book from Mom/Dad for a day without chores, favorite dinner menu, trip to the movie or a movie rental, a night of playing favorite games with popcorn and pop, of course...  just keep it simple!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Cindy asks: What about gravy from a brined turkey?

We brined a turkey for the first time this Thanksgiving. It was the best turkey we have ever made. There was one problem, however. We could not use the drippings for gravy. They were far too salty. What should we have done differently?

Food for thought:
If the pan drippings are too salty,
wouldn't the turkey be too salty too?

 Brined turkeys have been really become popular and for good reason -- juicy meat!  I've brined in the past and still made excellent pan gravy with the drippings, but my immediate response would be to use the day before gravy recipe posted a few weeks ago.  I love having this done ahead of time along with the mashed potatoes. 

Now, back to making gravy from the brined turkey drippings.  Here's a few tips that might help:  
  • Carefully follow the brining recipe, so as not to add any additional salt. And be absolutely sure to keep that turkey cold while brining (there was a host who sent her guests to the hospital this year because she didn't keep the turkey cold enough while brining. Yikes!  Maybe she just wanted out of making Thanksgiving next year.)  
  • Rinse off the bird, inside and out, before roasting.  There should be no visible sign of the salt from brining.
  • Use a homemade no-sodium broth (using the neck and giblets, simmering for quite some time to get a more concentrated flavor) or a low-sodium one like Swanson's Natural Goodness or Trader Joe's Low Sodium Organic Free Range Chicken Broth for the gravy.
Hope this answers your question, Cindy.  Be sure to let me know if any of the tips work for you next time you brine.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Sharon asked: Do you know where I can get a good deal on magazines?

Ahh...  I must admit I am a magazine junkie, but I never pay full price.  If there's a "must have" mag, I Google and search for a deal. If there's no deal to be found, I wait for one like this one from Mamapedia

At a rate of $10 for 2 years -- that's 24 issues -- I buy! 

I usually get all the best deals from  I have been ordering from them for a few years now and their customer service has been great!