Thursday, November 27, 2008

Turkey For Me and Turkey For You

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!!!!

I hope everyone has had a great day filled with food, family, and fun! I definitely have had just that :)This morning the fiance ran a road race...which in turn made me feel extra guilty haha. Although there was no way I was going to try my first road race on Thanksgiving when it easily could of been 15degrees out. It was actually pretty nice in the sun, but I wasn't ready...or registered for that matter. However, I plan to run tomorrow afternoon (after a full day 'o shopping), because it's supposed to be pretty mild.

While the boy was running, I had a vanilla Chobani with puffins and a banana on the side. The race route goes right by his apt, so I was blocked until it was over, I did manage to walk down to Starbucks to get a cappuccino though.I needed to get down to my mom's asap, to get to work on an appetizer I was bringing to my aunts. I created the Sweet Potato Pizza Bites!

Basically I sliced 2 sweet potatoes into rounds (using a Mandolin, which I proceeded to take a nice chunk out of the tip of my thumb with...awesome). Coated them with olive oil, salt and pepper then baked until cooked through, but not crispy. I was trying to get them on the verge of crispy.

Meanwhile I sliced and caramelized a large onion, which I added fresh sage to towards the end. I then placed some onions on each potato round. Then they were topped with goat cheese and thrown back into the oven to get warm and melt the cheese! These were yummmmmmy!!
It was time for Turkey Dinner 2 of 3, and so far mine was still the best hehe. It amazes me that even when you take a little of each thing you get a FULL plate!!

DELICIOUS!! Turkey, homemade gravy, mashed potatoes, family stuffing, green beans, carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, and two cranberry sauces :)

After my plate, I was full but not was dessert that put me over the edge! There were 8 pies, I had 4 tiny slivers but still...too much. I had mom's pecan, mom's chocolate cream, grandmother's butterscotch, and my cousins Banana cream.

I have to admit I'd really feel better after a workout, I find it very hard for me to exercise at other peoples houses...esp in the Winter. I need to really really make a solid effort to workout tomorrow.

At least I will have some serious walking in tomorrow during Black Friday shopping!! My mom and I love this...(well nothing beats the day after Christmas to me, but this is still great). I don't know what it is, but I just love the feeling of Christmas in the air or something. I do like to try and find Christmas gifts but if I don't that's fine too :)

And I leave you with a cute Willow picture...she just go groomed Monday

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Final Thanksgiving Recap

Man, I really just need to crank out the rest of the info from Sunday's Apt. Thanksgiving. So here goes...

The rest of the prep work on Saturday consisted of washing and trimming the ends of the green beans, making the topping for the cheesecakes, and making a Chocolate Pecan Pie! I used this recipe that I saw in Gourmet last year. I made it last year as mini pies made in a regular muffin tin (soooo good!), so this year I wanted to switch it up by using my tart pan for a new shape!

Of course I started this around 9:30pm and had a mishap toasting the Pecans!!I had them on the stove, got distracted, and then I smelt them...burning!! Of course I didn't have enough to start over, so roomie and I had to make a late night trip to the 24hour Shaws :)

Crisis averted! I rolled out the last of the pie crust and this time place it into my tart pan.
NOTE: I got a little over zealous and proceeded to poke fork holes in this one...IDIOT! You only do that when your baking the crust without filling...needless to say the crust got a nice little outer layer of the carmaley filling, and was a little resistant to come out of the pan :)

My mom makes an AMAZING pecan pie (can't wait til tomorrow!), but I just like to do this one because it incorporates...Melty dark chocolate!!

You spread the chocolate along the bottom of the crustThen place the pecans on top
I like a pecan-y pie so I added more than called for, then you pour the filling mixture on top.And bake!
I love how gooey and chewy it gets...mmm. I'd have to say this years tasted more chocolatey, which obviously isn't a bad thing, but I think I like it more pecan pie flavor, then chocolate... However, still awesome!

Then it was off to bed. The 22lb Turkey didn't need to go in until 9/9:30am, but I got up earlier to get my butterscotch pie filling made.

I don't have the exact recipe on me right now, but I'll follow up later with that. Basically it's: milk, eggs, butter, flour, brown sugar, vanilla...the end.I know you should first separate 3 eggs...make sure to save the egg whites for later to make the meringue topping!

Get the milk on the stove until it's scalded (bubble forming around the edge and starting to form steam), then pour it into the bowl where you've added your flour, brown sugar, and saltPour this back into the pan and turn the heat back on, I can't remember if you bring this back to a boil...but I know it's hot and time to add the egg YOLKS. First you lightly beat the egg yolks in a separate bowl, and then add like a table spoon or so of the hot milk/sugar mixture into the eggs while beating quickly. Then add a little more...basically what you are doing is adding heat to the eggs so that when you add them back into the pan they don't scramble! So once the eggs are warm, slowly pour them into the pan while whisking quickly, bring to a boil while still mixing continuously until the mixture has thickened.
Once thick, turn off the heat and add the butter (like 3T) and vanilla, stir til butter is melted and combined. Finally pour your filling into the bake pie crust (baked the day before).
I put plastic wrap on this and set it in the porch (the second fridge in the winter!). Later on, after we ate I quickly grabbed the egg whites I saved, tossed them into my Kitchen Aid mixer and made the meringue. Seriously these mixers make Amazing meringue! Beat the egg whites on med/high, when they start getting frothy I added 1/4t of cream of tarter (helps stabilize egg whites), and about 1/3 cup sugar! Beat until just stiff peaks, and spread over pie...I like to form little peaks on my meringue...I LOVE MERINGUE!! Throw in a 400 degree oven for about 10 min, just til meringue starts to get golden brown.This is a family favorite...definitely my favorite pie, was my dads too! It's just amazing, I think the name "butterscotch" is kind of a misnomer, because it doesn't really taste like a butterscotch...I'd say more of a creamy caramel taste, nothing strong just sweet, creamy and delicious.

Turkey time!! So when the Apt Thanksgiving started back in college...I was too grossed out to remove the "things" inside the turkey...I made one of my "helpers" (roommates) do it hehe. I'm over it now and just go in, then give it a shower in the sink, dry it off and plop it into the pan. You add a nice ball o' stuffing in the cavity, and a little stuffing on the other end too. Fold the wings in and down, legs back into the little holder, and rub it with softened butter, salt and pepper!!I don't baste, you just make a loose foil tent which keeps the moisture in, then remove it for the last 45min-hour to brown the skin...moist and delicious!Our guests had a nice cheese platter to hold them over until turkey time...
My roommate and I had a wonderful time at this Cheese Shop in Wellesley...its like heaven. They have every cheese imaginable and they give you big tastes of anything you want. So as we were deciding we got to try two amazing aged Goudas and 2 of the decadent double and triple creams. I haven't the slightest idea what the exact names of the ones we got but they were incredible!

Now for some sides!
One of my FAVS!! The green beans! In the past we've always done the traditional green bean casserole...which is delish, BUT last year my aunt made these Green Beans with Pancetta and Sage, and it was love at first bite!
The crispy salty pancetta and the wonder flavor of sage make these SO insanely good!

The Carrots! Remember the HUGE yellow and orange carrots, well these were simply sliced, boiled, then tossed with some butter and maple syrup. However, its important to drain the carrots and SAVE THE CARROT WATER!! It's used to make the gravy.Another side dish that was switched up this year...the squash!

Usually I just bake, mash, and mix in some butter and brown sugar...but I knew I just had to make my aunts Squash Souffle! (btw I have many aunts, so if I reference "aunt" its not always the same one haha).

This stuff is frikin incredible and probably could be a dessert, but for now its just a creamy rich side dish. Again, don't have the exact recipe at the moment...but I think it was...

2 sticks of butter...yeah...I cut it down to about 1.6 sticks, but I think 1 stick would of been fine (this is a doubled recipe btw).

2 boxes frozen winter squash
1/2 cup (?) sugar
1/2 cup (?) flour
6 eggs
4 cups milk

Since its a souffle you have to mix, pour into pan, and bake right away so I waited until the turkey was out, then quickly mixed and into the oven!

Melt butter, add to squash in mixer, blend, add flour, sugar, then 1 EGG AT A TIME, while beating on medium. I'd beat this for a min or want to get some air incorporated in there...then slowly add the milk. This is a lot for the mixer so don't turn it up or it will splatter everywhere.

Pour into pan...bake at 350 for 1 hour.Then there were the Mashed potatoes...and I can't believe I have NO PICTURE!! Again, I changed it up a little...normally it's just the peel, boil, mash, butter, milk, S&P...not this year...I cranked it up a notch with Caramelized Shallot and Rosemary Mashed Potatoes! The recipe is for sage, which I'm sure would be awesome, but since we had sage with the beans, I went with Rosemary. The flavors are very subtle but so so good. My base potato recipe was not the one listed in the recipe, but I used a Cooks Illustrated version. Basically peel, and STEAM the potatoes in a big pot with the strainer insert that you would use for pasta! I've learned that this method, or boiling the potatoes WITH the skin, then peeling is better as to not get too much water into your potatoes.

Lets see what else... Gravy,

Take the Turkey pan with its drippings, put it over 2 burners on medium, add the carrot juice, and 3 bullion cubes, get it simmering, dissolving the bullion. While whisking briskly, as a flour/water mixture slowly until slightly thickened, let it come to a boil stiring here and there until its thicker.

Ok I think Thats it!! Man that was long. I love doing this every year, and yeah it's a FULL weekend of work but so worth it :)

I leave you with thisThe roomies pumpkin pie is in the upper left :)

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Back to Work and Thanksgiving Part 4

Yay for a 3 day work week!! I just love the holidays! I really could of used some extra sleep this morning, and my back is killing me from being on my feet so much this weekend...but so worth it!

Let's start where I left off...the Cranberry Orange Cheesecakes! These were a hit! As I said before I used a Giada recipe combined with a different one I found on epicurious. I found the epicurious one first, but then loved the Giada recipe because I wanted to make mini cheesecakes...and I just love Giada's recipes in general. So I used Giada's for the crust, cheesecake, baking...basically everything but the topping. That's when I used the epicurious make the cranberry topping.

As you can see the edges aren't nice and smooth but it took a little work getting them out of the pan in one piece. My mom stopped by and I sent her home a few for her and my grandparents...they all LOVED them! Yay! I think I'm going to have to make these again..soon!

I had the very last one tonight...I think it was even better today :)

Unfortunately I think I "expanded" my stomach...I hate that term, but it seems to be true. I think I was more hungry today than!

I did have an incredible bowl of oats this morning though...mmmm...can't wait for a repeat tomorrow!

My Morning Mixture:
1/3 cup oats, 1/3 cup water, 1/3 cup milk
1/2 banana

Then added:
1/2 of a package of Kashi Pumpkin Spice Flax Crunchy Granola Bars...crushed
a little spread of Pumpkin Butter
1 Spoonful of White Chocolate PB
YUM!!! This was my first time adding the pumpkin butter...great idea!

I couldn't wait for lunch...I was salivating just thinking about it. Turkey Sandwich!

1 Arnold Sandwich Thin...these are perfect for this sandwich because I love stuffing on my sandwich so the thinner the bread holding it together the better!

My Stuffing
Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Sugar snap peas and sliced carrot (one of the GINORMOUS ones)

Obviously I couldn't NOT have dessert...a thin slice of pumpkin pie and small piece of my chocolate pecan pie...which we will dive into further in another post:)
A random coffee note... Usually I add skim milk and a tiny bit of cream to my coffee in the morning. However, this time of year I love to add...Eggnog!!! So good...yet so bad! Hahah, it's like liquid ice cream :) However it's fabulous in coffee!!

Hmmm I'm hesitant to post my dinner plate...only because I haven't gotten to many of the items shown...don't worry it was a very small plate, not a dinner plate.There were ZERO left over mashed potatoes! I guess it's better that long as there's stuffing I'm a happy camper.

My roommate and I LOVE to buy the Starbucks Advent calendars each year, but last year we saved them and she is re-filling 1 for her parents and we are re-filling the other for this year! Yay saving money! She came home with a plethora of Trader Joe's goodies, to fill the drawers.

The one on the left is filled with the drawers showing the numbers for each day...the one on the right is what it looks like after the 24 drawers have been taken out, flipped over, and put back in. Yay Christmas!

Now on to Thanksgiving Part 4: Cranberry Sauce and Stuffing

Growing up I always loved the cranberry sauce from a can! My grandmother would make homemade but there was always the jellied cylinder wobbling in a bowl in it's exact can shape, just waiting to be dug into. It was only a few years ago I tried the homemade stuff and fell in love. Now I did not up and abandon my jellied sauce from a can, but I love to now enjoy both! Plus making cranberry sauce is EASY! Just follow the recipe on the bag:

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 bag cranberries!

My grandmother used OJ instead of water and its divine! I didn't have OJ, but I squeezed the juice from 1 orange and used water for the rest.
I also try to cut out a little sugar...but obviously not much.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat, simmer...about 8 min or so later...Sauce! Once it's cooled in the fridge it gets nice and thick and jelly-like.



Nothing fancy here, just a classic bread stuffing, but for some reason this stuff is like's SO SO SO SO delicious. In the years past I always seasoned to taste, but I actually kept track this year!

You'll Need:

1 Stick Butter
5 Stalks Celery
1 large Onion
white bread (I used a large Family Size Loaf of white, and a regular loaf of White Whole Wheat)
4 white potatoes, boiled and mashed
1 T salt (yeah it seems like a lot but it makes A LOT of stuffing)
14 grinds of the pepper mill (this was the only way I could measure it haha)
1T (heaping) plus 1.5t Poultry Seasoning
1.5 t Summer Savory (may take a few stores to find this one)

*The reason the amounts of, say, the Poultry seasoning is so odd is because I added the first tablespoon, tasted, added more, tasted...etc.
**I was originally worried about the salt because at first when tasting, it was on the salty side...but after it cooks it's perfect...well to me it was. I'd say you could reduce the salt a little it you wanted, maybe just 2 tsp.

First you can boil and mash the potatoes...these just add texture.

Chop the onion and celery into small pieces...Rip all the bread up into a LARGE bowl...this is about half of the bread, maybe less...In a large saute pan, melt the butter then add the celery and onion...WARNING: Your kitchen will begin to smell AMAZING at this stage :)

Cook on med/low do NOT want to brown the veggies. When the onions are translucent and soft, pour the whole mixture on top of the bread.Then add the mashed potato mixture, as well as your seasonings. This is wear I wash the hands up so that I can dive in. There's just no good way around needs to mixed with the hands. Be careful because the butter/veggie mixture is hot, but mix it, massage it, make sure all that seasoning is incorporated. No need to be gentle want it nice and combined!

As you can see the whole mixture has reduced in size, so if you think there's WAY too much bread, it's probably just right.

I use some for stuffing the bird, then the rest goes into a baker dish and into the oven at 350 for 20-30, no real time, you just want it hot and maybe a little crisp on top. I usually put it in after the turkey is done.

Well it's bed time again...where does the time go!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Thanksgiving Part 2...3...?

Phew...I'm exhausted! We just finished doing LOADS of dishes and cleaning the war zone that was our kitchen about an hour ago. I have SO many pictures I want to share but I think I may have to do this in various posts from now until tomorrow....I need some sleep tonight too :)

There were a few struggles along the way, and I was worried a few things weren't going to come out right but in the end I have to say EVERYTHING was awesome!!

Let's rewind to Saturday morning. We had to get going early and finish the necessary grocery shopping. That's right...white bread. The 1 time of year I purchase this. We always get so excited though because there's something about a super soft fresh slice of white bread when you haven't had any since this time last year...its like a special treat. I broke off half a slice, spread some nice soft butter on top and savored every bite. So nostalgic...we used to always have bread and butter at my grandmothers house!

Are these not the most beautiful carrots you've ever seen?? They had yellow carrots too! They aren't parsnips, they were "rainbow carrots" The oranges ones were HUGE!!
That's a normal sized fork!! I mean those carrots were massive...very tasty though.

Saturday is when I get most of my baking out of the way because the oven is occupied most of the day Sunday for the turkey. I started rolling out crusts for the butterscotch pie and for roomie's pumpkin pie.
Lot's of flour for the counter and rolling pin...I will say that I should of added more water to this dough, especially since I chilled it overnight. It was a little difficult to work with, but this is how you learn.

I think I'm getting better at the crimping of the mom does it do effortlessly and it always looks beautiful, mine takes a lot longer. Don't forget to poke it with a fork if your baking it without filling.
10-15 Minutes later, and nice and golden...
Then it was time to get to work on my Mini Cranberry Orange Cheesecakes! I tend to do some of the same desserts every year, and they are classics everyone likes BUT I decided to switch things up this year...I mean in 4 days I'll be having another Thanksgiving with all the classic pies.

Last year I did mini lemon meringue pies which were awesome, but I didn't feel like making lemon filling, so I went for a cheesecake with the citrus burst.

The recipes started off based on this recipe...Giada of course. I made the chocolate crust...Crushed the chocolate wafer cookies by placing them in a big Ziploc bag and smooshing them with a rolling pin
Combined with the melted butter
Then pressed the mixture into each well of the mini muffin tin!
I combined the cheesecake mixture in the food processor...ricotta, cream cheese, eggs, sugar, and orange zest!Blended til smooth, then distributed the filling into the mini muffin tin, on top of the crusts!
These had to bake in a water bath, then cooled in the fridge before trying to remove them from their homes :) I will follow up with the Cheesecakes tomorrow...but I will say they were divine!

During all the cooking and baking you forget to actually prepare a meal...but all of a sudden get sooo hungry. I dove into the freezer for another quick meal. I bought this at...yes...Trader Joe's... a while ago and have been waiting for the perfect time to break it out.YUM!!!!! SO good! This was a great pick-me-up. Plus it was split 3 ways so a lot less guilt :)
I think that's enough for now...I need my bed asap! Can't wait to get in a super gym workout tomorrow evening...I don't even want to think about my calorie intake this weekend!! At least I was on my feet 90% of the time!