Foodie Friday: December Menu

Can you believe 2015 is almost over? Each month, when it is time to post the next month’s menu, I am shocked at how quickly the month flew by! It is already November 27, and it feels like August was just a blink ago. I hope you enjoy December’s menu. As always, you can find the recipes on my December Menu Pinterest Board.

Dec Menu

And a printable PDF, if you prefer:

Dec menu

Turkey Tip Tuesday: The Thaw

It is so important to properly and safely thaw your turkey. AND it takes planning! The two main methods are refrigerator thawing and cold water thawing.

Refrigerator thawing takes more time, but is very easy to do. Just place your turkey (still in the wrapper) in the fridge, breast up and allow 1 day for every 4 pounds of weight.

Cold water thawing requires a little more attention. Place turkey (still in wrapper) breast down in the sink or a large tub. Cover with cold water. Change water every 30 minutes to make sure the surface doesn’t get too warm, which can cause a dangerous growth of bacteria. Allow 30 minutes thaw time per pound of turkey.


This is my dad carving last year’s turkey. It was delicious!

Co-Parenting Through the Holidays

coparenting through the holidays

When I first started this blog, I did a post on divorce. I teach a class called Co-Parenting for Resilience, which is a parenting class for people going through a divorce. Here is something I came across today about how to handle the holidays when you have gone through a divorce with children:

Co-parenting through the Holidays

The holidays are an exciting time that children and parents look forward to every year.  However, for families who have recently experienced divorce, the holidays can be a difficult time for a number of reasons.  For these families, many of their old family holiday traditions are changed dramatically, with routines being shifted, celebrations happening before or after the holiday date, and many emotions being stirred due to the multitude of changes.

The most important thing to remember during this time is not to get pulled into resentment and sadness; always think of your children and how you need to do what is best for them.  No matter what is going on between you and your co-parent, you must do the best you can to co-parent successfully through the holidays. And while it likely won’t be easy, it is definitely possible with a few helpful tips on how to make the holidays work:

  1. Don’t make your children decide who to spend the holidays with.
    It should not be left up to your children to decide how time with each parent will be split during the holidays.  Putting your children in the middle and letting them decide will only create discomfort for the entire family. You do not want to intensify your children’s loyalty conflicts. You and your co-parent should make the decision of how time will be split during the holidays.
  2. Create a holiday plan prior to the holidays.
    Co-parents should create a holiday schedule prior to the holidays to negotiate how the children will spend time with each parent. Every year may look a little bit different depending on what you and your co-parent agree on. It is important to have a conversation with your children about where they will be and when to help the transitions remain as smooth as possible.
  3. Be flexible and be willing to compromise.
    When creating a holiday plan, each co-parent will most likely need to comprise. You both won’t be able to spend the entire holiday season with your child so it is important to remember that it is in the best interest of your child to spend part of the holidays with both you and your co-parent. This may mean that one parent gets to have Thanksgiving but not Christmas one year but the opposite the next year. This might also mean that you can’t spend the holidays traveling like you had once planned. It is crucial to calmly negotiate the priorities of you and your co-parent and come to an agreement about the best plan for your children.
  4. Resist the urge to compete with your co-parent.
    Resist the urge to measure your worth as a parent in terms of what you can or cannot provide financially to your children. Don’t compete with your co-parent to see who will spend the most or find the best present for your child. Remember that you do not need to buy your children’s love. It may also be helpful to coordinate gifts with your co-parent to try to keep the number of gifts balanced and to keep from duplicating any gifts.
  5. Validate your children’s emotions.
    Your children will feel a range of emotions as they experience their first holiday season in two different homes. Let them know that it is okay to feel sadness or other negative emotions and be there for them. Don’t make your children feel guilty about spending time with your co-parent. If they miss your co-parent, allow them to call your co-parent during the holidays.
  6. Start New Traditions
    A divorce or separation doesn’t have to mean that all fun holiday traditions should be over. Instead, come up with new ones for your family to enjoy.  Allow your children to help create new traditions with each parent that will help adjust to the new family holiday season. When appropriate, old family traditions may also be continued.If you and your co-parent are able to keep your children as the priority and work to plan everything well in advance, it is entirely possible to begin new traditions with your children and avoid the normal stress of the holiday season.

Need more help? Co-parenting is hard. We’re here to help! Learn more about the Co-parenting for Resilience Program, part of the Extension mission of Oklahoma State University’s College of Human Sciences.


Turkey Tip Tuesday: Seasoning

Seasoning your turkey correctly makes all the difference! I love using rosemary, thyme, sage and citrus. I soften some butter, chop my herbs, zest my citrus and mix it all together with plenty of salt and pepper. Then I slather the butter all over the bird that I have patted dry with paper towels (inside and out). I slather the butter under the skin  too. Then I stuff the cavity with more herbs and my citrus fruit that I already used for zest. YUM!


It’s all about the butter.

Homemade Christmas

Have you ever done a “Handmade Christmas?” A few years back, my sisters and I decided to do that. The rule was that every gift we gave each other, and our parents had to be made by us. Making your own Christmas gifts can be a very personal touch-but it’s got to be done well. Here are some tips for doing a Handmade Christmas:

  1. Stick to your talents. If you can sew, use it. If you are good with building things out of wood, great! If you are not good at sewing, don’t try to make everyone a quilt. If you are looking to learn a new skill, this is not the time. An ill-crafted handmade gift may be cute when it’s coming from a small child, but it’s not as appreciated coming from a capable adult.
  2. Manage your time. It doesn’t matter how great the gifts are that you are planning to make if you do not allow yourself enough time to finish all the projects. Save yourself the stress and worry by planning early and sticking to a production schedule.
  3. Find a partner in crime. Working with someone else on your projects can help you to stay on task- and it’s more fun to work with a friend!
  4. Budget wisely. Handmade gifts sound as if they will be less expensive, but you could really bust your budget if you’re not careful! Craft supplies can be expensive. Luckily, most craft stores have regular sales on these items. You just need to watch the ads and buy when they are on sale.

Doing a handmade Christmas was a lot of fun for my sisters and me! If you’ve ever contemplated doing this, I say give it a try!!

Here are a few ideas for handmade Christmas gifts:

A t-shirt quilt

Dinner in a bag: For our kids’ day care provider, my husband baked some homemade bread and I put it in a bag with some dried pasta, a pasta sauce I had made from tomatoes I had grown, some nice parmesan cheese and a nice balsamic vinegar.

Christmas ornaments: Any style you like would do, but one year for the grandparents, we took profile headshots of our kids, had them printed in silhouette and put them in tiny frames. I then glued a loop of ribbon to them so they could hang on the tree. I think these are really sweet, but there are so many ideas on Pinterest for handmade ornaments.


Foodie Friday: Winter Stockpile


Winter Stockpile

Have you ever been home from work due to a sudden ice/snow storm that happened before you got to the grocery store? It’s awful. Trust me. So every fall, I make a winter stockpile of pantry items that can be used to pull together a hearty winter meal. It can really make a spike in your grocery tab if you try to do it all at once, so I buy a few things each week. I’ve already started. Here is my winter stock pile list:

  • canned, diced tomatoes
  • canned, diced tomatoes with green chiles
  • canned, crushed tomatoes
  • all kinds of canned beans
  • tomato sauce
  • canned corn
  • dried pasta
  • frozen mixed veggies
  • beef broth
  • chicken broth
  • ground beef-for the freezer
  • frozen chicken (pre-cooked or raw)
  • frozen biscuits/bread dough OR the ingredients for homemade

I have found that this list will suffice for any number of hearty meals. I almost can’t wait to be snowed in with my little girlies! We might just have to bake some bread and break out the sled!!


*Photocred to my husband, Zach Riggin with Zach Riggin Photography

The Dash Diet

DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. It is a way of eating that was originally designed for heart patients, but turns out, it’s a great way to eat for everyone! There are so many different eating philosophies out there (Paleo, Atkins…) but this one is doctor recommended and easy to follow without feeling deprived. It requires no specific foods, and allows for a small amount of our favorite treats!

The DASH diet focuses on

  • Eating vegetables, fruits, and whole grains
  • Including fat-free or low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry, beans, nuts, and vegetable oils
  • Limiting foods that are high in saturated fat, such as fatty meats, full-fat dairy products, and tropical oils such as coconut, palm kernel, and palm oils
  • Limiting sugar-sweetened beverages and sweets.

Here’s a great little chart that I found on the National Heart Blood and Lung Institute website:


With the DASH diet, it’s important to get plenty of vegetables and to switch to whole grains. Many Americans do not consume adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables. Some tips to increase fruits and veggies in your diet include

  • Wash, cut, and package fruits and veggies into individual servings as soon as you get home from the grocery store for snacking. If it’s ready to go, you are more likely to reach for these healthy snacks than if they still needed be prepped.
  • Serve veggies as the main dish. Stuffed peppers, anyone?
  • Two words: Stir. Fry. Cut the meat in half and pump up the veggies!

Another thing that many American adults to not get enough of is dairy. There are so many specialty diets out there with claims that adults don’t need dairy, or that it’s bad for you. The truth is, a large portion of the adult population may have a deficiency of lactase, the enzyme that breaks down lactose in dairy foods. People with this deficiency should not eat lactose containing foods BUT many of us (myself included) have no problems at all digesting dairy foods. And adults need dairy too! Calcium is good for your bones, but that’s not all. It’s also a very important nutrient in muscle health and heart health. Calcium is essential in the human body! Be sure to get 2-3 servings of calcium rich dairy every day!

Something that most Americans get plenty of is meat. It’s important in the diet, but can also be high in fat, so the DASH diet recommends that we eat 6 or fewer servings per day. The problem is, what exactly is a serving? Well, one serving of meat could be one egg or 1 oz of meat. We used to hear 3 oz per serving with the recommendation of 2-3 servings per day. If you do the math, it comes out the same.

So, instead of trying to do the 30 Days Whole Foods Challenge, the Atkins diet, Paleo diet or any other crazy hard way of eating that completely eliminates entire food groups- which is not a good thing to do- Try the DASH diet. Easy to follow. No special products. Treat yo-self (occasionally).


Turkey Tip Tuesday: How Much Turkey?


A good rule of thumb for deciding what size turkey to buy is one pound per person. This won’t actually be one pound of meat per person, because there’s a lot of other stuff in there adding weight. AND there will still be plenty of leftovers.

If you’re still not sure how much to buy, try the Butterball calculator. It’s fun!