Friday, November 24, 2017

Thanksgiving 2017

While the first official day of winter isn't until December 21st, I think we can all agree that Thanksgiving marks the end of autumn.  The Friday after Thanksgiving (today!!) is when I start to decorate our home for Christmas. I already have paperweight bulbs spouting little green shoots on my kitchen window sill and a boxwood wreath on my front door.  But before I start to bring up the basement bins of decorations, I wanted to capture a few photos from our Thanksgiving.

We have much to be thankful for this year, in particular, my Dad, who underwent major open heart surgery about 8 weeks ago.  We are thankful the blockage was discovered before he had a heart attack or stroke and especially thankful for the skilled hands of an incredible surgeon, that we found thanks to the connections and recommendations of a good friend.

Unfortunately, Andrew has a cough this year and my Dad didn't want to risk picking it up, so we had a last minute change and ended up with just a small celebration with our family and my Mum instead. Hopefully everyone can stay healthy for Christmas and we can celebrate as complete family! :)

As always, I'm thankful of all of you that still read this blog.  You encourage and inspire me!  I hope you each had happy and bountiful celebrations with people you love!

Here are a few pictures of our day...

^^Made Martha Stewart's recipe this year.  It was so gorgeous it almost looked like a movie prop.  I had visions of the exploding turkey from the movie Christmas Vacation before I carved it. Haha ^^

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Thanksgiving Favorites + New Recipes for Pumpkin Pie and Stuffed Acorn Squash

Thanksgiving is a week away!  For all of you hosting or contributing to dinners this year I wanted to share some new favorites and inspiration from past years to help in your planning and preparation.  I spent last weekend trying out a couple new recipes and attempting to land on a winning pumpkin pie recipe.  Sadly, really excellent pumpkin pie has eluded me thus far in life.  I've tried so many recipes over the years and either it doesn't set properly or the flavor isn't quite right, and I just end up being a bit underwhelmed.  It is Jimmy's all time favorite dessert and the star of Thanksgiving dinner for him (for me it's the stuffing and gravy!).  Last year a girlfriend, who knew of my predicament, was kind enough to bring over a pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving and everyone basically devoured it in 5 minutes.  It had the best flavor of any I had ever tried.  She was generous enough to share the recipe too!   

Now, full disclosure, the day I set out to make her grandmother's pie recipe my food processor died.  So I had to over process the dough and I couldn't perfectly puree the pumpkin and even with that the pies were still pretty outstanding.  I also gave Ina Garten's recipe a try (maybe I had tried it in the past??) and while I loved the consistency and look of her pie, the taste didn't come close.  So, Grandma Eleanor's Pumpkin Pie is our new favorite!  Life is good!!  Thanksgiving will be complete!!

Grandma Eleanor's Pumpkin Pie - makes 2 pies
2 pie crusts (homemade or store bought, my crust recipe follows)
3 cups pureed pumpkin (homemade is best)
2 cups evaporated milk (this stuff kind of grosses me out a bit.  I might tinker with recipe and try heavy cream and whole milk in the future when I have more time)
2 2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 heaping tablespoons Molasses
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
4 eggs  

Mix dry ingredients together. Mix wet ingredients. Combine the two. 
In a preheated oven bake at 425 for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 and bake for 50-55 minutes or until center has risen.

My Favorite All Butter Pie Crust Recipe - makes 2
2.5 cups flour
1 tsp sugar
1 cup butter (2 sticks), very cold
1 pinch salt
1/2 up ice cold water

Add flour, sugar and salt to a food processor and mix to combine. Then add the cold butter in pieces and pulse until the mixture is crumbly with pea size lumps. Drizzle the ice cold water in slowly as the processor is running - stop when the dough starts to come together in a ball.  You may not use all the water, add more as needed.  Shape dough into a ball and divide in half.  Flatten each into 1 inch disks and cover in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate until ready to use. 

^^Link to these deconstructed pots of pie I made a few years ago.  The above recipes would work perfectly here too^^

^^Acorn Squash with Grain Stuffing^^

Another new recipe that I tried this weekend is a vegetarian side dish that could do double duty as a fall or winter meal.  It is crazy healthy even if a little time intensive, but really delicious so I will definitely make it again! It's great to make when the weather is dreary outside and you have a weekend day without a whole lot going on.  The actual steps are very simple, just a lot of steps (it's a Martha Recipe after all. haha).  Here is a link to the recipe.  My recipe notes: Roast the acorn squash for 45-50 minutes before stuffing. I also brushed the inside of each with olive oil before adding the seasonings. I think the you could easily sub died cranberries for the topping in place of pomegranate seeds, which I will do next time because not everyone was a fan of the pomegranate.

Links to past Thanksgiving posts here, here, and here.

^^One of my very favorite from a few years back.  I love a "natural runner" and think I'm going this route again this year but with less orange.^^


Monday, November 6, 2017

Recipe | Shaved Brussel Sprout Salad with Hazelnut Crunch

There are a few recipes I have dog eared from the last two issues of Martha Stewart Living magazine.  Three of which are part of this week's menu plan.  I will share if any others are winners too.  I was excited to try this salad because it looked simple and sounded really fresh.  It was both!!  I will definitely make this again and again this fall and winter.  Maybe even for Thanksgiving.  The best part of this salad is the caramelized hazelnut crunch.  So much lemon and rosemary that I was a little skeptical but oh my goodness it is THE BEST.   Sorry my pics aren't the greatest, but it's dark early so I'm taking what I can get.  

this stuff. crazy good.

Recipe | Shaved Brussel Sprout Salad with Hazelnut Crunch
1 pound (6 cups) shredded/shaved brussel sprouts (I used Trader Joes pre-shredded)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Hazelnut Crunch Topping *see below

Toss these ingredients together.

Hazelnut Crunch
5 TBS olive oil
1 cup hazelnuts, chopped
2 TBS lemon zest (2 lemons)
1/4 cup rosemary, minced
2 TBS granulated sugar
2 TBS fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper

Warm olive oil over medium low heat. Add lemon zest and rosemary.  Cook for 1 minute. Add hazelnuts, cook till golden, about 1 more minute.  Add sugar and lemon juice and salt and pepper.  Cook till caramelized.  About 1-2 minutes. Don't let it burn. Pour into a small bowl and let cool for about 30 minutes.  Then break it up and toss into salad.

Topping can be made ahead of time, 1-2 days, and stored in an air tight container.