Thursday, November 27, 2008

Turkey's In The Oven!!!

But more on that later! Now, it's time to relax! Everything is done and just needs to be re-heated when it's time to grub!

Justin is home from a loooooooong 32-hour shift sans sleep. Needless to say he is zonked out and I'm relaxing with a glass of wine!

The main purpose of this post actually has nothing to do with Thanksgiving...

This post is for all my OSLers...I am thinking of you all right this moment, not because it is Thanksgiving and I am extremely thankful for the amazing friends you all are, but because I turned on the TV and saw that this was on...

Memories...I miss you all so much!!! HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!

Critter/DogTip/Sherlby Mare/Shel

Update From The Trenches

How have I fared so far? Well, the good news is that I'm still alive.

The bad news is that it's not over yet. The biggest battle still remains.

I'm finding that Thanksgiving Dinner is a lot easier with my Mom there to guide/do mostly everything and my Dad there to run out to the grocery store whenever we forget anything. He also makes a pretty mean Pina Colada.

Last night had its share of a few "mishaps." I baked sweet potatoes for my sweet potato souffle and for some reason most of them turned white and hard. With the help of a can of yams and a spare sweet potato I was able to pop in the microwave, I was able to salvage enough to make plentyyy of sweet potato souffle.(I haven't put the streusal topping on yet so I'll wait to take a picture.)

I had to run to Target for an extra can of green beans. I got a little sour cream/mayo/cream of mushroom soup happy and needed to soak up some of the goo with more greens in the casserole.

No worries, because I also had to go to Target for sugar and a digital meat thermometer. I was more than thrilled when I discovered I had to go to the store again. Or completely not thrilled.

I managed to get my turkey patted dry and safely into its new little home for the next 14 hours: Shortly after it was tucked into its brine, I realized it's going to be hell trying to get that thing out.

The Bourbon Pecan Tart went without a hitch...I can say that now because we haven't tasted it yet...that's the true test! Before and After pictures... The cute little florally/star I made in the center shifted while baking :( Oh well! (PS: Cute tablecloth, eh Mom? ;) )

Cranberry relish is done and hanging out in the fridge getting nice and sweet! Sidenote...a bunch of my cranberries were mushy so even though I used two bags, I was only able to get about a bag and a half worth of berries for my relish. Picture to come later...

I got the easy ones out of the way last will be the real battle. Stuffing, yeast rolls, pumpkin pie (okay, that's an easy one) mashed potatoes and The Turkey (cringing...) WISH ME LUCK!! Mom, make sure your phone is charged!!

I'll leave you with the war zone that my kitchen turned into last night...note the wine. :) Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!


Things I Am Thankful For...
   - The best family in the world (I miss you Mom, Dad, Evan and Shugs...and Norma!) who loves me and supports me everyday. Mom...if my turkey stinks you're hopping on a plane and bringing me yours! I can't wait to be home for Christmas!!!
   - The most amazing fiancee who loves me enough to turn a blind eye to my shopping addictions, only slightly roll his eyes when I gush over Tyler Hansbrough and (reluctantly and without too much grumbling) answers the age old question "Which shoes look better with this dress?"
   - The greatest friends I could ever ask for...OSL...I miss everyone! Enjoy each other's company while you're all together and think of me from time to time ;) To those I'll see at Christmas...LESS THAN A MONTH!! And to those who will be elsewhere, like in stupid Georgia or stupid Wisconsin, COME VISIT ME! :) I love you guys!
   - Beautiful sorority sisters that I know I can still count on, years after we've taken our pledge. I miss you girls more than you know! a.o.e.
   - Stores that are open on Thanksgiving Day because I ran out of brown sugar
   - Unlimited cell phone minutes so that I can call my mom with my freak-outs throughout the day without worrying that my minutes will runneth over.
   - The "I Don't Believe In Calories On Thanksgiving" rule I made up last year
   - Oscar Mayer Deli Sliced Turkey Breast that I can slap on some bread and serve to Justin just in case mine doesn't go as planned
   - All things Carolina Basketball including, but not limited to, a 6-0 start, a #1 ranking, ESPN Full Court so I see my Tarheels all the way from dumb Texas, and my other boyfriend.

That was, of course, just a sampling...but remember to stop and take a moment to remember everything you're thankful for today! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Early Bird Gets The Worm!

…or just gets to panic and freak out about Thanksgiving Dinner a day early!

Since Justin is on call, I’ll begin cooking tonight! I’m going to go visit with some friends tomorrow late morning so I’m going to try to get quite a bit done this evening in order to have some relaxation tomorrow before Justin gets home (exhausted and zombie like after a 32-hour shift in the NICU with no. sleep.).

On the agenda….
- Peel, dice and roast sweet potatoes for Sweet Potato Souffle
- Bake my Bourbon Pecan Tart
- Make Cranberry Relish
- Peel and dice 6lbs of potatoes for mashed potatoes
- Make Sweet Potato Souffle (after the sweet potatoes have cooled)
- Maybe make the Green Bean Casserole (minus the crunchies on top…don’t want them to get soggy!)
- Brine my turkey

I’m going to leave the stuffing, pumpkin pie, rolls, mashed potatoes and broccoli with hollandaise until tomorrow!

My mouth dropped and drool fell onto the ground when I saw the November 2007 cover of Cooking Light magazine. On the front was a DELICIOUS looking pecan tart! I’ve been waiting to try it until now and I’m excited! Here’s the recipe and what it’s supposed to look like….I’ll let you know how mine turns out either later tonight or tomorrow! Wish me luck!

Bourbon Pecan Pie With Chocolate Drizzle

- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 3/4 cup dark corn syrup
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons bourbon (Plus additional 3 oz. of bourbon, 7 oz. of ginger ale and a squeeze of lime poured over a glass of ice for the chef! ;) )
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- 1 tablespoon butter, melted
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 large egg white
- 2/3 cup pecan halves
- 1/2 (15-ounce) package refrigerated pie dough (such as Pillsbury)
- Cooking spray
- 1/2 ounce bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine first 10 ingredients, stirring well with a whisk. Stir in pecans. Roll dough into a 13-inch circle; fit into a 9-inch removable-bottom tart pan coated with cooking spray. Trim excess crust using a sharp knife. Spoon sugar mixture into prepared crust.

Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until center is set. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Place chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl; microwave at HIGH 1 minute. Stir until smooth. Drizzle chocolate over tart. I may leave this part out…Justin isn’t a huge fan of chocolate.

Nutritional Information:
(Makes 12 servings. One serving = 1 wedge)
Calories: 277
Fat: 10g
Protein: 2.4g
Carbohydrate: 45.2g
Fiber: 0.7g
Sodium: 156mg

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

So A Turkey Walked Into A Bar....

Thanksgiving is my FAVORITE only beats out Christmas by a hair, but it's still my fave! I love to cook and fall is my favorite season so it just has "me" written all over it!

Our Thanksgiving dinner hasn't really changed too much over the years. There have been a couple additions and some recipe tweakings, but other than that, I've pretty much had the same Thanksgiving dinner my whole life...and I LOVE IT!!

It's rare if I have any of the Thanksgiving items throughout the rest of the calendar year (except for the green veggies & mashers) so I'm always super-craving everything by the time October rolls around. It takes all my strength to not dive into the first pumpkin pie I see! My favorite feast is only two days's what I'll be serving up!

Pictures and recipes to follow....
Herb Roasted Turkey with Gravy...named James (ask my mom, I name my turkey every year)
Sweet Potato Souffle
Green Bean Casserole
Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Traditional Herb Stuffing
Broccoli with Hollandaise Sauce
Cranberry Relish
Yeast Rolls
Pecan Tart
Pumpkin Pie

I've heard from a bunch of different sources that Pinot Noir is a great wine to serve with the Thanksgiving spread. We tried it last year and it was yum, so I'm doin' it again this year! After I pay another trip to the grocery store, we'll be having the Boxcar Pinot Noir. I can tell you that it's very yummy because I snuck into the bottle for a taste...and then it all somehow magically disappeared! Funny how that happens! ;) I don't think I forgot anything! Pictures and recipes to come!

Only Two Days Left...

Until Thanksgiving!! I can't believe it's here already! This has definitely been the fastest year EVER!

And this will mark the first Thanksgiving I am cooking completely, 100% on my own.... I don't know who is more terrified, me or Justin. I'm concercned with not blowing up the turkey. He's concerned with not getting salmonella poisoning.

Most of my shopping is done. I would be completely finished if I would just learn to listen to Justin...(This is the only place I'll ever admit that! Thank goodness he never reads my blog!) If I recall, the conversation went something like this...

J: You're not going to make a list of everything to get for Thanksgiving?
Me: Pshh...I don't need no list! I've done this shopping trip thousands (okay maybe 23) times before with my Mom...I practically have the Thanksgiving shopping list memorized!
J: Okay. But I'm not going back to the store with you to get the 15 things you forget.
Me: No worries! I won't forget anything!

So now, I'll be going to the store alone to get the cinnamon, evaporated milk, karo syrup, molasses, vanilla extract, sweet potatoes, regular potatoes and wine. (I didn't forget the wine the first trip...I just drank it already. Whoops! But more on that later...)

My mom has given me very extensive culinary training so I'm sure I'll do fine...although I'm sure at the end of the day my kitchen will somewhat resemble a Federal Disaster Area.

To make things a little easier on myself, I'm going to break up the cooking into two days...since Justin is on call Wednesday to Thursday morning, I'll have all night Wednesday to get started on my pies (yes, you read that correctly...PLURAL!) and a few of the sides. When the big day comes, I won't be running around like crazy trying to get everything done...I may even be able to relax and watch the parade a bit!

I hope everyone is as excited as I am!! I'll be posting my Thanksgiving menu a bit later and I'll be sure to post lots of pictures and recipes if I survive the ordeal.

What food item are you most looking forward to on Thanksgiving?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

All I Want For Christmas....

...are these AWESOME Night Vision Goggles!!!
Two seconds after I just posted my "Welcome Back Kotter Critter" post, I flipped to QVC (another guilty pleasure) and my jaw dropped when I saw these bad boys.

This was awesome on so many levels...1) I think this has to be the first time Night Vision Goggles have been presented on any home shopping show. 2) Anything with the word "Stealth" in it...I must have. 3) The brand name is "EyeClops." and 4)I conveniently saw them just in time to add them to my Christmas List.

Cue "Welcome Back Kotter" Theme

I'm tired of being a Phanton Blogger.
The month of October was ridiculously busy and left little to no time for anything other than work (bleh), gym, wine and sleep. On occasion, I would be nice and make dinner for Justin. November has decided to be a gem and continue in the same manner.

So, I have been completely MIA from my blog world and am ridiculously behind in updating everyone on my life...which I know they have been on pins and needles waiting for.

Besides being busy, another possible reason for my lack of blog motivation may be that I'm not too happy with my blog design. So bear with may look cah-razy over the next few days as I figure things out.

Justin is on a pretty tough rotation for the next three weeks so I'll have more time on my me time to get back to blogging...just in time for the Adventures of Cooking My First Thanksgiving Alone (also affectionately known as "Dear Lord please don't let me give my fiance salmonella poisoning") and Christmas! I promise...many updates to come!

Monday, November 10, 2008

New Pumpkin Bread

I posted my Pumpkin Bread recipe a little while back. I loved it, it was delicious and it proved that I actually did have some baking ability! I started making them in mini-muffin pans to have around the house to pop in my mouth while running out the door for breakfast or for just a quick snack.

I was playing around in my Google Reader and came across another version on Skinny Food By Amy who got it from Kate at Good Things Catered, who adapted it from The Joy of Cooking. I gave it a shot and am super happy that I did! Below is my interpretation.

1 ½ C all-purpose flour (I used whole wheat flour)
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt (When I first read this, I thought that it sounded like a lot of salt but went with it anyway...I don't eat a lot of salt at all, so next time I'll lower it to ½ tsp)
3 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger (Didn't have any...used a mix of Allspice and Pumpkin Pie Spice)
1 tsp ground nutmeg (See above!)
½ tsp ground cloves (See above...then see above that!)

1/3 C milk (Actually didn't have any! Used 1/3 cup International Delight Sugar Free Hazelnut Creamer...YUM!)
½ tsp vanilla
6 Tbsp butter, at room temp (I used applesauce instead)
1 C granulated sugar (I used Splenda)
1/3 C packed brown sugar
2 large eggs (I used Better 'N Eggs)
1 C pumpkin puree

- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Have all ingredients at room temp (I have no patience...didn't do this!).
- Spray 9x5 loaf pan (or muffin tins).
- Whisk together flour, soda, powder, salt and spices thoroughly.
- In a large bowl, combine milk and vanilla
- In large bowl of mixer beat butter until creamy (about 30 sec)I added my applesauce in with the milk and vanilla
- Add sugars and beat on high speed about 2-3 minutes
- Beat in eggs one at a time (Again, no patience. I dumped 'em in.)
- Add pumpkin puree on low speed until just blended
- Add flour mixture in 3 parts alternating with the milk mixture in 2 parts beating on low or stirring with spatula until just combined Do you think I did this or do you think I plopped everything together and started stirring?
- Scrape batter into pan and spread evenly.
- Bake about 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. (It took me about 68 minutes).

Final Verdict: Absolutely delish! I think this one has replaced my old pumpkin bread recipe. Though I loved the thought of the oats in the last recipe, I think they made the bread a little too dense. This one is a bit fluffier and downright tasty! (You may want to try my less salt suggestion!) Sorry no looks like the old pumpkin bread, just a little darker due to the whole wheat flour.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008