With the countdown to Thanksgiving officially on, I'm bringing back an oldie but a goodie -- Spinach and Cranberry Salad with Stuffing Croutons.

While there is much to anticipate about Thanksgiving dinner, I'm also already looking forward to the leftovers!  If your family tends to cook for a small army, like mine does, then there will be plenty to go around.  

And there are many delicious Thanksgiving leftover inspired meals that you can create, so don't be shy when leftovers are on offer.  I find, if you go in with a game plan, and think of it like a free grocery shopping trip (like my cheap, I mean frugal, self does), you'll end up saving time and money in the days that follow.  Plus, you'll have some really great dishes to enjoy all week long.

This Spinach Salad with Stuffing Croutons is one of my favorite dishes.  Whether you serve it at Thanksgiving dinner or you use your leftover stuffing post Turkey Day, I promise it will be sure to impress. 

Stuffing Croutons
Total Time: 70 minutes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 1 hour 

What you'll need 
10 tablespoons stuffing 

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. 
2. Scoop 1 tablespoon of stuffing and form into a cube.  Repeat 9 more times to make 10 croutons. 
3. Place stuffing cubes onto a baking sheet. 
4. Bake for 1 hour. 
5. Remove from oven.  Let cool.
6. Place the croutons on a plate, and allow them to continue to cool in the refrigerator for at least one hour before serving.
_
Spinach and Cranberry Salad
Total Time: 15 minutes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 0 minutes

For the salad 
4 cups spinach salad
1 cup cooked green beans 
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
slivered almonds
dried cranberries 
stuffing croutons

For the dressing
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 cup white wine vinegar
1 lime, juiced
1 shallot, pressed with a garlic press
1 clove garlic, pressed with a garlic press

Directions
1. Add spinach, green beans and onion to a large mixing bowl.  Sprinkle on cranberries and slivered almonds. 
2. Top with stuffing croutons.
3. Mix together dressing ingredients.  Add dressing just before serving. Toss well.
*Note -- you probably won't need to use all of the dressing. I'd apply about half of the dressing, toss, taste and decide if you need more. 
4. Serve and enjoy!
_Just in case you need a stuffing recipe too.  Here's our family recipe.

Mom's Stuffing
I know everyone says their Mom makes the best stuffing, but my Mom really does make the best stuffing! It is so good, that I have to share her recipe.  Caution, the quantities aren't reduced for two.  This recipe makes 4 quarts, which should generously serve about 10-12 people.

What you'll need
2 bags unseasoned Cubed Country Style Stuffing (I prefer Pepperidge Farm)
1 package sage flavored Jimmy Dean sausage
1 package reduced fat Jimmy Dean sausage 
4 celery stalks (aka celery ribs), chopped 
1 small onion, chopped
49 ounce can chicken stock
16 ounce carton chicken stock
1 egg 
1 tablespoon butter

Directions
1. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat.  Sauté celery and onion in butter.  
2. Add sausage.  Brown sausage, while stirring frequently, until sausage is cooked through, about 15 minutes. 
3. Add bread cubes to a large mixing bowl.  Top with sausage, celery and onion.  
4. Pour in 49 ounce can of chicken broth.  Mix well. 
5. Cover bowl and refrigerate overnight.
_6. Before baking, add the additional 16 ounces of broth and 1 egg.  Mix well. 
7. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
8. Transfer stuffing to a 4 quart baking dish.  Bake uncovered for 45 to 50 minutes.  Serve and gobble, gobble!
 
 
Happy Friday! I hope everyone had a wonderful week.  I'm celebrating with a delicious bowl of Asian Pasta Salad.  It's the perfect blend of unique flavors infused into a traditional American favorite.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Asian Pasta Salad
Total Time: 25 minutes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes

What you'll need
8 ounces Tri-Color Rotini (I didn't have rotini, so I used what I had on hand)
1 cup sugar snap peas, steamed
1/8 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil 
1 tablespoon sugar
pinch of pepper
1 cup baby spinach
1/2 cup carrot, shredded or diced
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped

Directions
1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
2. In a small skillet, steam sugar snap peas in water over medium heat until tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and set aside. 
3. Add sesame seeds to the skillet.  Toast over medium heat until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Set aside.
4. In a small mixing bowl, combine vegetable oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, sugar and pepper; whisk until mixed well. 
5. Pour dressing over pasta; mix well until evenly coated. 
6. Add spinach, carrot and cilantro.  Toss, serve and enjoy!
Recipe adapted from Lil' Luna
 
 
We are one day closer to the weekend (yippee), and after a long first half of the week, the weekend can't come soon enough.  

If you're feeling a tiny bit over the weekly grind, like I am today, then you'll love that this recipe requires minimal prep work and very little clean up.  It's also packed with protein and tons of satisfyingly delicious flavors. 

Taco, Vegetable and Rice Skillet

Total Time: 25 minutes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes

What you'll need
1/2 pound lean ground turkey
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1/3 cup water
1/2 packet taco seasoning
1 zucchini, quartered lengthwise into 1-inch thick pieces
1/2 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can Rotel® diced tomatoes and green chiles 
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup instant brown rice
1/2 cup frozen corn 
1/4 cup Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

Directions
1. Add ground turkey and green pepper to a large skillet.  Continue to break up meat over medium heat until ground turkey is crumbled and cooked through.  Add water and taco seasoning; stir well until liquid is absorbed. 
2. Add zucchini, beans, tomatoes and 1/2 cup water. Increase heat and bring to a boil.
3. Add rice and corn; mix well. Cover; remove from heat and let stand for 7 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. 
4. Sprinkle with cheese before serving.  Enjoy!
Recipe adapted from ReadySetEat.com
 
 
_Today's featured recipe is simply delicious.  It combines a variety of seasonings, flavors and textures to create a light yet satisfying dinner for two that you can make quickly and effortlessly.

Spiced Chicken with Couscous Salad
Total Time: 20 minutes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes

What you'll need
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
paprika
ground cumin
salt and black pepper
3⁄4 cup dried couscous
handful of cherry of grape tomatoes, cut in half 1/2 cup fresh basil, torn 
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Directions
1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. 
2. Season chicken with paprika, cumin, salt and pepper; cook chicken until brown and cooked through, about 6 to 7 minutes per side.  Remove from heat and transfer to a cutting board. 
3. Meanwhile, cook couscous according to package directions,
4. Add tomatoes, basil, lemon zest, lemon juice, remaining olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.  Toss to combine.
5. Slice the chicken and serve over couscous.  Enjoy!
Recipe adapted from RealSimple.com
 
 
This light and veggie-packed dish is the perfect meal for me, yet it's hearty enough for my husband. The extra kick of flavor and spice from the hot pepper is a great addition to the stuffing, and we also loved how it complimented the citrus flavors in the couscous.

If you are worried about the prep time during the week, you can stuff the peppers on the weekend, refrigerate them and then pop them in the oven when you get home from work.  The cook time may increase slightly, but the end result will be just as delectable.  

Santa Fe Turkey Stuffed Peppers
Total Time: 50 minutes
Prep:15 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes

What you'll need
For the filling
1/2 pound lean ground turkey
1/2 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup frozen corn
1 serrano or jalalpeno pepper (for less spice only use half), seeds removed and chopped
1/2 cup tomato, diced (I used cherry tomatoes since that is what I had on hand)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons onion, chopped
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
salt and pepper to taste

For the peppers
2 bell peppers, seeds and tops removed and cut in half lengthwise
1/3 cup chicken broth
Monterey and Cheddar cheese, shredded
2 scallions, finely chopped

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a medium skillet over medium heat, brown turkey and season with salt and pepper.
3. Add onion, garlic, black beans, cilantro, serrano pepper, diced tomatoes and cumin to skillet once meat is browned; mix well and simmer on low, covered for about 10 minutes
4. Remove lid, add corn and simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
5. Place peppers, cut side up, in a small baking dish.  Fill each pepper with turkey mixture.
6. Pour water or chicken broth on the bottom of the dish; cover and bake for 30 minutes or until peppers become soft.
7. Remove foil, top each pepper with a sprinkle of cheese and bake uncovered for an additional 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.
8. Top each pepper with scallions and serve with a side of Cilantro Citrus Couscous.

Cilantro Citrus Couscous
Total Time: 15 minutes
Prep:10 minutes
Cook: 5 minutes

What you'll need
3/4 cup dried couscous
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon lime zest
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
2 scallions, finely chopped
salt to taste

Directions
1. Cook couscous according to package directions.
2. Meanwhile, in a small mixing bowl, combine lemon zest, lime zest, cilantro, lemon juice, tomatoes and scallions.  Mix well.
3. Pour mixture over the couscous, mix well. Season will salt to taste.  You can also add more lemon juice if need be. Enjoy!

Note -- if you are following along with the weekly menu plan, be sure to save the remaining 1/2 can of beans.  I will be using these in another recipe later in the week. 
Santa Fe Turkey Stuffed Pepper recipe adapted from skinnytaste.com
 
 
Today's featured recipe for two is quick, easy, and can be made using common pantry items, making it a great weeknight meal solution.  Not only that, but with so few ingredients, it surprisingly packs a mouthful of deliciously comforting flavors.  Serve the chicken with a simple side dish, like my sweet and savory sweet potatoes, and you've got dinner done without a lot of fuss. 

Parmesan Crusted Chicken
Total Time: 25 minutes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes

What you'll need
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, halved lengthwise
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Italian seasoned regular breadcrumbs or panko style breadcrumbs (I prefer panko)
pepper

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2. In a small mixing bowl, combine mayonnaise and Parmesan cheese.
3. Dredge chicken breasts in mayonnaise mixture until they are evenly coated.
4. Place chicken breasts on a greased baking sheet; sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top.  Lightly season with pepper. Note, if you want a crispier crust you can also drizzle the tops with a little bit of olive oil.
5. Bake for 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. 
6. Serve with a side of sweet and savory sweet potatoes and enjoy!
Recipe adapted from The Gingered Whisk
 
 
Monday: Parmesan Crusted Chicken with Sweet Potatoes • boneless, skinless chicken breasts lightly breaded in a creamy parmesan crust.  Served with a side of sweet and savory sweet potatoes 

Tuesday: Santa Fe Stuffed Peppers with Cilantro Citrus Couscous • ground turkey, corn, black beans, tomatoes and zucchini infused with a spicy blend of flavors stuffed in a bell pepper and topped with melted cheese.  Served with a side of cilantro citrus couscous

Wednesday: Spiced Chicken with Couscous Salad • seasoned and grilled boneless,skinless chicken breasts served over a light and fresh couscous salad with tomatoes, basil and lemon zest

Thursday: Taco, Rice and Veggie Skillet • ground turkey, onion, bell pepper, zucchini, black beans and corn cooked in a blend of taco seasonings and brown rice topped with shredded cheddar cheese

Friday: Asian Pasta Salad  • tri-color rotini pasta, spinach and bell pepper tossed in a soy and sesame dressing, sprinkled with sesame seeds