Friday, November 25, 2011

First Thanksgiving

Yesterday was my Epic thanksgiving. It was the first time cooking all the dishes, along with  a 20 pound turkey. In my family we name our turkey, this year was no different to me. I named him "Hank" I know some people think of it a little strange that I would name my dead frozen turkey before cooking it and eat it.

 I will recount the crazy 2 days of thanksgiving.  I did make every recipe from my post gobble-gobble, I only strayed a little bit, we will get to that later.
It all started on Wednesday morning. The brine was ready and it was time for hank to be tucked away for 24 hours. It was not the usual brine, the base was apple cider, soy sauce, ginger, salt, peppercorns, cinnamon, garlic and cilantro. For the brining process I found a brininig bag at the store, this bag saved me a whole lot trouble. Turkeys are big-O birds and to accommodate brining for 24 hours and still have everything for the sides and desserts in my fridge. I brined hank in a bag in a cooler with 3 bags of ice. The cooler stayed in the cold garage. To be safe I checked it during the day.
Apple Blackberry Filling
Wednesday was off with a bang. The goal for the day was desserts. I was a little ambitious with picking 4 completely different desserts. First the graham cracker crust, I added one secret ingredient- Candied Ginger, it got ground up with the graham crackers. For the crusts the food processor was my best friend, it makes the doughs effortless. Next was chocolate tart dough, then the cinnamon and ginger double crust pie. Once I had all the doughs done, a break was in order. I am sure it would have taken less time if I hadn't taken so many breaks, that's the luxury of baking from home.
Assembled Apple Blackberry Pie
While reading through my sweet potato pie recipe I realized that  I bought the Wrong kind of sweet potato- WHAT?! I had no clue there was different kinds! Oh great now I had to head to the store on Wednesday night! Needless to say it was a zoo, but getting the right kind of sweet potato (yams) was worth it. After that fiasco I put together the apple blackberry pie. When looking for my mini cookie cutters, they were nowhere to be found. Instead I did a classic lattice crust, I just love that look. With the pie assembled, and pecan toffee tart baking in the oven, I was half way done!  Sometimes I amaze myself when I don't read the whole recipe and then at 9 o'clock at night realize I need to roast the yams for 1 1/2 hours. Luckily I had plenty of sugar in my system so I was just getting started, and with the baby asleep I had less distractions.
Baked Cream Puffs
 On to the cream puffs! You have no idea how many times I tried to talk myself out of making them , then convince myself that it was a yummy idea and they had to be made. So on to making cream puffs at 9:30 at night! While they were baking I made the pastry cream and caramel sauce. Once the cream puffs came out it was time for the sweet potato pie to go in. By the time the pie came out it was almost midnight.  But lucky me all the desserts were done and it was time for bed. Oh my bed felt so good after the day I had.

Thursday was the Big day. I got up and pulled hank out of the brine, patted dry and let sit at room temp for 1 hour. Thursday seemed relatively  easy, all I had to do was the sides.  Once I got the turkey in the oven, it was time to peel 10 pounds of potatoes, 3 pounds of carrots, clean 2 pounds of brussels sprouts and green beans.  I was prepared for the turkey to cook for 4 hours, no way it was ready in 2 1/2!! I was so surprised when I checked the temperature.  I pulled it out and covered with foil. Once the sides were ready I covered them with foil and placed in the oven on warm. I was done! Finally I sat down and had a glass of wine.

 I mentioned I only strayed from the plan a bit. Well on Wednesday night I realized I was not going to make rolls, I had lack of oven space. I made a call and she was happy to make rolls, they were not cranberry but who cares? They were delish! I also added mushrooms to the green bean casserole, I was amazed that mushrooms were not included, just chopped them up and folded in.

Sweet Potato & Apple Pie
In the long run we had 10 adults and 3 kids. Turned out 2 people couldn't make it. I might have gone over board with the mashed potatoes, we have a ton leftover.The sides went fast, only about 1-2 servings leftover. I got rave reviews on the desserts. The cream puffs were the first to go, then the sweet potato pie. Only 2 slices of apple blackberry pie, and chocolate pecan tart are lingering in my fridge. I thought I had made too much dessert, well I was Wrong! Everyone had plenty of food, after dinner we played board games. It was truly a fun night. It was been requested that I do Thanksgiving again next year. So I have officially taken over thanksgiving! Woo whoo! My only regret was that I was so hungry that I didn't take photos of the turkey or sides. I managed to snap a few of the desserts as we were slicing them.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Warm up!

Oh man the last few weeks have been crazy. The weather is changing, it is now getting cold and with daylight savings time it gets dark near 5pm. Every year at this time it gets gloomy and rainy here in Seattle. Don't get me wrong I like the rain that is why I moved here. It's a  little discouraging at first, just looking outside I get tricked and think it is 8pm but low and behold it is 5:30 WHAT?!!  I was ready for bed! 
With the snap in the air, I tend to want to curl up and stay warm. This turns me into a lazy Liz! Just because it is cold I can't ignore everything. I have a nice little list of things you can do to warm up on the chilly nights, and will get you motivated. Here I go with my lists again so put on a pair of slippers and get started!

  1. Cook Dinner-  Cooking warms me up so very fast. The first thing I do when I get to work at 6am is turn on the ovens and bake scones and cookies. Now that warms me up at work. But for home it's practically the same thing. Turn on the oven for a casserole,  boil some water for pasta, cook some rice, anything will warm you up. 
  2. Do the dishes-  When I first moved to Seattle my roommate and I would want to do the dishes because that water was hot and our fingers were cold. This will also keep your kitchen nice and clean.
  3. Laundry- I just love to fold nice and hot laundry from the dryer. Just like putting on warm socks, be surrounded by warm clothes. Yet again keeping the house clean. 
  4. Move around- easier said then done. When I get home from work I don't want to do anything because I am moving around all day. If I keep the momentum going things will get done. If I sit down i ain't movin'! But Luke keeps me going. If you have a little one then moving around is easy!
  5. Exercise- Lately I have had a strew of injuries my knee and my back. I haven't been doing much, but intend to once I am feeling better.
  6. Drink- Yes I said drink, it doesn't have to be Alcohol but it can be. Have some Tea, Ho Cho (hot cocoa) Coffee or Cider. But if you are so inclined have some wine it will raise your body temp.  Hell take some advice from the Russians and take a shot of Vodka.
  7. Start a Fire?! ONLY IF YOU HAVE A FIREPLACE! Be careful
Now that I have made you clean the entire house and get drunk. Have a seat and cuddle up with a movie or a good book you deserve it. I bet you are warm.


 I am getting ready for Thanksgiving! This is my first year going the whole nine yards, we are having 15 people over and boy am I in over my head. I have been making lists and lists and lists. I have a shopping list which I have been comparing to the store ads and coupons. One list for all the dishes I will be making, another list of ingredients I already have, I even have a list to keep my lists in order. Oh it's going to get crazy in this house come November 23. I am not going to be doing test runs of the food since it's about a week away. I will share with all of you what I am planning on. If the recipes are online I will share them too. So bring on the Lists!
List 1: Dishes- This was way longer until I looked at it and freaked out. Way too much food, but I do love some leftovers! This list doesn't include the actual dishes I will have to be doing after dinner.. 
 I am taking a lot of advice from bon appetit and Martha Stewart

    Photograph by Marcus Nilsson  
  • 20 pound Turkey- did I really have to list this? Yes! it is the star of the day, GOBBLE GOBBLE! It's all in the way that you prepare it. I have cooked turkey before but not one this large.I have decided the cider-brined-turkey-with-star-anise-and-cinnamon is the way to go!
  •  Garlic Mashed Potatoes-  now when making them you need a ton, it is the co-star to the turkey in my world. I just use a basic recipe but will add 6 cloves of roasted garlic cloves to 10 pounds of potatoes. mashed-potatoes

  • Carrots- Usually it is a ton of starches and turkey, this year I want good veggie sides for everyone to choose from. spiced-glazed-carrots-with-sherry-and-citrus sounds yummy!
  • Green Beans- Lets face it the traditional green bean casserole isn't the cat's meow. I found this updated recipe that includes artichokes, I think I will add the fried onions and some spices since they sound better then chunks of bread. green-bean-and-artichoke-casserole sure does look tasty. 
  • Brussels Sprouts- Ever since I started liking them about a year ago I can't  get enough of them, plus paired with pancetta will be amazing this is a great recipe brussels_sprouts_with_pancetta.
  • Gravy ties everything on the plate together. I am using this as a guide to silky-turkey-gravy but i will be using chicken stock that I have made already. 
  • Rolls- cranberry_nut_rolls  I will omit the nuts, just a preference of mine. 
  • Cranberry Sauce and Stuffing-  I am delegating it for someone to bring, com'on I can't do it all!
  • Sweet Potato Pie- YES we have made it to dessert ! Instead of having sweet potatoes as a side dish, this pie will be replacing pumpkin pie at our feast- I hope I don't get in too much trouble for this.This looks so much better sweet_potato_pie
  • Apple Blackberry Pie- Since I went a little blackberry picking crazy this summer I have a ton of blackberries to use up, this seems fitting and enclosed in a all butter double crust how can anyone resist? apple-blackberry-pie
  • Chocolate Pecan Tart- I made this last year and it was Amazing, it has been requested this year. chocolate-toffee-pecan-tart
  • Salted Caramel Cream Puffs- I am using this recipe but changing it a bit, I am only going to make the cream puffs with salted caramel pastry cream dipped in dark chocolate. Oh YES I went there! this is what I am going to have for dessert! milk-chocolate-and-salted-caramel
I have my work cut out for me, however I do have Wednesday off and I do some of this for a living, so it will be like working from home. But I don't get paid- darn!  It will definitely be a feast. I will report back after and let everyone know if I had a melt down or not.  Well I hope everyone has a great Turkey day. And I am thankful for my 4 followers, lets hope for a few more in the new year!