Friday, November 23, 2007

The Feast

Yesterday was a terrific day and a great meal (if I do say so myself.) :) It was great to spend the holiday with friends and despite the cooking frenzy, it was a very relaxing day for me. That's surprising, usually I completely stress out and freak out and am generally impossible to live with when we're having people over. I think just the fact that I wasn't at work caused me to really relax.

We got up early (well, for us), and I started with the rolls. I had prepared the dough Wednesday night and kept it in the fridge. I took it out around 9:00 am to warm up a little, then I rolled it into the balls and got them into the muffin tins. They rose for about three hours.


They were then baked in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes, and here they are in all their gorgeousness:



They were awesome. Simply delicious and nice and sweet. Tim had about three of them throughout the day and we each had a few at dinner. They were great and my very first attempt at bread. Thank God there was no kneading!

Appetizers were veggies and dip and meat, cheeses, and crackers. Here's the veggie "tray".

Is that not the cutest thing you've ever seen? Well, I have to give credit to Glenna over at A Fridge Full of Food. I saw this on her blog originally, and showed it to Tim and we decided to give it a try. We went to Walmart and bought a little tin bucket for $.97. The bottom has a thick piece of the end of a loaf of French bread. It is covered with kale and then the skewers are held in by the bread. The skewers have grape tomatoes, broccoli, cucumbers, carrots, and peppers. It was adorable.

I have a dip tray I bought at Cost Plus a few years ago and that was the centerpiece of the tray.


Two of the sections have Ranch and Bleu Cheese dressing, one has different types of crackers and the one you can barely see has sausage and two kinds of cheese. It was great fun and L and M really liked it.

Now to the main course - isn't that why we're all here?





The turkey was absolutely gorgeous - crispy, golden brown skin and perfectly cooked on the inside. Tim thought it was a bit dry, which it was, but the flavor was great.

The mashed potatoes are the best I've ever made. I used Yukon Gold potatoes and sprinkled the tops with crispy shallots. I've decided I'm in love with The Pioneer Woman and most of yesterday's recipes came from her, including the rolls, stuffing and potatoes. The crispy shallots on top of the potatoes were my idea. :)

Tim made the sweet potatoes, and we tried a recipe from Epicurious.com. Tim and L really liked them - M and I don't like them, so we're trusting that they were good.

M loved the stuffing. It was half cornbread and half white bread, and then just the classic onions and celery with chicken broth. Once everything was mixed together, I also threw in two beaten eggs to hold everything in and it turned out good. The original idea was The Pioneer Woman's, but I added the egg. Judging by her reactions, I'm thinking the potatoes were L's favorite. As for me, it was a tie between the mashed potatoes and the rolls. Tim's favorites were the rolls and the stuffing.

Dessert was the pumpkin pie I baked Tuesday night and apple crisp. I ended up having to make a new apple crisp. There was an "incident". I don't want to talk about it. I sent Tim and M to the store to get apples and L and I stayed behind and talked about them behind their backs. :) Anyway, the new apple crisp turned out great. The apples were nice and mushy (the way Tim likes them) and the top was crispy and sweet. L and Tim said the pumpkin pie was really good, too, although M and I didn't try it.




This holiday season, I'm thankful for my boyfriend who puts up with me and all my strange quirks and loves me anyway. I'm also thankful for good friends. I've known L for about 4 years when we worked together and M for almost three years. They're good friends, and when they lived in Phoenix, we used to get together every week for dinner. Now that they live in California, we don't see them enough, but it's still very nice when they come home. I'm also thankful for all of the leftovers in our fridge, which are going to make some great meals. I'm thankful to have such bounty when others have to go without.

Happy holidays!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving


Happy Thanksgiving! Have a wonderful day, eat lot of food, enjoy your families and friends, and be safe.

And So It Continues....

After a quick dinner at our favorite Chinese place tonight, we continued our prep work for Thanksgiving dinner.

Tim did his sweet potatoes (we had to get new ones) and we'll keep them warm in the crockpot tomorrow. We're trying to do everything that needs the oven before the turkey goes in tomorrow afternoon. I prepped my veggies, meats and cheeses for the appetizers, pre-chopped the onion and celery for the stuffing, and made the bread dough for the rolls. Once again, it was the Pioneer Woman to the rescue! She posted her recipe for rolls this morning and I immediately emailed it to Tim and we agreed that it looked great.

Stay tuned - I'll try to remember to take pictures of everything tomorrow before we devour it. :)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thanksgiving Prep

The preparation for the big day has begun in earnest. Tim made the brine and did a practice run with the sweet potatoes. We got them for a steal and we were both kind of wondering if they were any good. The jury is still out. I don't eat them, and Tim hasn't decided if they're good or not.
Last night, I made cornbread and cut it up, along with a loaf of french bread for the stuffing, which is now drying.
Tonight I made an apple crisp. It's not very pretty right now, but I'll take a picture once I've plated it with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.

I also made my first pumpkin pie. I've never made one, but Tim and L both like pumpkin pie, so naturally, I had to make it! That hole you see near the middle? That's where I stuck the knife to see if it was done.


Tomorrow night we're going to finish cleaning the house and I'm going to work on my veggies/meats/cheeses. I may also start the mashed potato process since the potatoes get boiled and mashed and then baked. I'm using the Pioneer Woman's recipe, which looks absolutely amazing. If you haven't seen her site, hop over there and give it a look. Her non-food site is pretty great too. She takes tons of great pictures and her recipes are simple and delicious. She's hilarious, too. Her butternut squash recipe cracks me up. If you read it, you'll see what I mean.

More to come...

It's Tradition!




A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is on TV right now. How can you not love that lovable loser? The part where Peppermint Patty is yelling at Charlie because he served toast, popcorn, jelly beans and pretzels for Thanksgiving was just on. I have nightmares about that kind of thing - I spend all day cooking Thanksgiving dinner and everyone yells at me. Yikes!

I am sooooooo excited for Thanksgiving. It is, by far, my favorite holiday. I've gotten to be a bit of a Scrooge about Christmas over the past few years, mostly because of the pressure of gift buying and traveling mess, and how crowded everything is. Thanksgiving, however, is all about being with your family and friends and eating good food. How can you help but love it? Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Thanksgiving

It doesn't really matter what the menu is for the beginning of the week, does it? It only matters what we're eating Thursday, and I think we can all agree.

Tim and I spent eight hours grocery shopping yesterday. We went to about 6 different stores to get various things and then finished up the shopping tonight.

There will be four of us for Thanksgiving - myself and Tim and our very good friends, L and M. L and M will be eating another dinner earlier in the day, but they've promised they will come hungry.

So, here's what's on the menu:

Mulled apple cider
Meat/Cheese/Veggie/Cracker "tray" (It's a secret - I'll post a picture when it's done)
Turkey (Alton Brown's brined turkey recipe)
Cornbread Stuffing*
Mashed Potatoes
Buttnernut Squash
Sweet Potatoes
Sauteed Corn with Onions, Zucchini, Squash, and Bell Peppers
Bread
Gravy

For dessert, we have apple crisp and pumpkin pie. The only things that won't be homemade will be the bread and the pumpkin pie crust. The rest will be made by Tim and myself. Tim is 100% in charge of the turkey. I've made or assisted a couple of other turkeys and they never turn out as good as when just Tim does it.

*Is it still called stuffing if you're not actually putting it in the bird? Is that when it's called dressing instead? I really have no idea, but we always called it stuffing when I was growing up, so that's what I call it.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Menu Plan

Monday: Beef stroganoff and salad
Tuesday: Chicken & mushrooms with balsamic cream sauce
Wednesday: Shepherd's pie
Thursday: Hot dogs
Friday: Parmesan dijon chicken
Saturday: Eating out for my birthday.

Catching Up

I've been a bad, bad blogger. Was it that I've had nothing to say for the past week, or just that I've been lazy? Well, it's a combination of the two. I haven't been feeling well for about a month, and it's really wearing on me.


We haven't done much, but I did take a few pictures of some of our meals. The first is the balsamic chicken. The picture didn't turn out very well, but it was terrific. This was Giada's recipe for balsamic drummettes, but we used boneless, skinless chicken breasts because that was what we had in the fridge. It turned out great, just like last time. It seemed to take a long time to thicken the sauce. I was starving when I got home from work, so I just put some of the sauce on there before it was really thick. We served it with some jasmine rice and steamed broccoli. Great dinner.

I thought this was also a good time to introduce you to Mickey.





Mickey has been with me for about 30 years. He's a plastic dinner plate that I've had for as long as I can remember. When I was very, very young, I didn't eat a lot. (Boy, how times change!) Anyway, it was a struggle for my parents to get me to eat more than a few bites of food every meal, so I got Mickey. It became a challenge to "uncover" Mickey. Mickey was probably made long before dishwashers, but he still goes in. He gets used many, many times during the week. He's my favorite plate, and one of the very few things that will never be "downsized" in all of my moves from house to house or state to state.


Another night, we had a really yummy salad. This was made from romaine hearts, mushrooms, red peppers, and corn. I don't even remember what we had it with, but it was so pretty, I had to take a picture of it.



Monday, November 5, 2007

Menu Plan

I am a little later than usual getting this up today. I ended up with a screaming headache last night after dinner. The kind where it hurts to blink or breathe and you see shooting stars.





Dinner last night was beef stroganoff and it was pretty good. I used this recipe from The Home Cook/Rachael Ray. It turned out great. The only thing I would change next time is to use a little more flour so it thickens up a little more, and add more sour cream. The sour cream flavor wasn't as pronounced as I would have liked it to be. The tablespoon of paprika made it really orange, too, I may only use a teaspoon of it next time. I didn't take a picture of it last night, but I did take a picture of my leftovers today at work. Apparently I take better pictures of food on my camera phone under fluorescent lighting. I really need to learn how to use my camera one of these days. Tim got it for me about a year ago as a birthday present (or something), and I still haven't taught myself how to use it. Some days I miss the old days - insert film, push button. Although, it would make it tough to attach the photo to this post, so you take the good with the bad.

So, without further ado, here is this week's plan:

Monday: Hunt & Gather. This is code for "I'm tired and not feeling well, so whatever you can find that's edible is what you're having. I'm going to bed."


Tuesday: Balsamic chicken - we're giving Giada's recipe another try, just tweaking the oven temperature and cook time, rice, broccoli

Wednesday: Marinated chicken breasts, yet-to-be-named side dishes. Not sure yet. This is a recipe Tim brought to the relationship. You get a bottle of Ken's light caesar dressing and marinate the chicken breasts in it overnight. It comes out juicy and delicious. We've baked them, grilled them, and sauteed them. No matter how you do it, they're great.


Thursday: Ribeye for me, bratwurst for Tim, McAllister Potatoes. Saw this recipe on Guy's Big Bite this weekend and immediately fell in love. My favorite things, all rolled into one - potatoes, bacon, onions, parmesan! I won't be adding the spicy peppers to the sour cream, though. My poor ulcers are crying in protest just thinking about it!


Friday: Eating Out
In other news, I got some awesome news last night. L and M called after reading my last entry and said they had decided to come home for Thanksgiving Day, just for me! Well, for me and L's family, but I like to think it's just for me! Apparently I guilted them into it. :) I'm excited they're coming, and can't wait to cook Thanksgiving dinner now!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Holidays

This was never supposed to be a food blog, but I get the feeling it's turning out that way. I think the reason for this is the fact that food is the only interesting thing going on in our lives right now. Other than what I cook for dinner, every day is the same - get up, go to work, come home, eat dinner, go to bed. We're pinching pennies right now so we don't go anywhere or do anything that would be considered noteworthy.

November begins a time of craziness. My birthday is in a couple of weeks. Less than that, actually - on the 17th. I've never really enjoyed my birthday for a variety of reasons. I've never known for sure if that was actually my birthday so I don't know if I'm celebrating on the right day. The short version of the story is that I was born in Korea and about a month later, I was abandoned and then found. The orphanage gave me a name and a birthday and then 4 months later, I was adopted. The birthday they gave me is still the day I celebrate, but it's always felt a little off to me. I'd almost rather celebrate the day I was found or the day I was adopted, but it's habit to celebrate November 17, so that's what we do. It's a day that's always been just a little melancholy for me.

After my birthday we have Thanksgiving. It turns out L and M won't be here to have dinner with us, so it will just be the two of us. It would have been great seeing them, but they were having a tough time finding someone to watch their dogs on the holiday. I wish we had someone to spend the day with, though. It would be nice to have someone to cook for other than the two of us. I love cooking Thanksgiving dinner, but I don't love that it's just the two of us. Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. No gift-buying or huge pressure. Just food, family, and football. Given that Tim and I aren't much for sports fans and we have no family here, this year will just be food. Last Thanksgiving we went to Maine for Thanksgiving, which was nice. His mom prefers us to be there for Christmas, though, so she made sure that happened this year by buying us the tickets! :)

Anyway, L and M are having Thanksgiving with M's family on Friday and then a group of us are going out to celebrate L's birthday. She loves her birthday, unlike me. :) The first week of December is Tim's birthday, and right after that is Christmas. We'll be in Maine for Christmas, which I'm thrilled about. Maine is beautiful and relaxing, which I think it just what the doctor ordered.