...did you make your own gravy?...

For the first time, ours didn't come from a jar.  I never was too worried about it- if everyone feared the process so much, it must be easier to just buy the jar- right?  Well.... wrong.  When our turkey was all said and done, we threw the juices into a bowl (I forgot my fat separator at home- blast!) and skimmed off most of the fat.  We checked out some gravy recipes, and came across a way of making it that I think was fun, and rather simple.

You Should Make this Too Gravy

3-4 tablespoons turkey fat
2 cups turkey juices - strained
4 tablespoons flour
pinch of salt
chicken broth on hand- or vegetable- or turkey broth

1.)  Add 3-4 tablespoons turkey fat to a pan and let it get hot.  Add in the flour and pinch of salt and whisk whisk whisk so that it all comes together.

2.)  When it's bubbly and smooth, just a minute or two, add in 2 cups of the turkey juices whisking constantly so that it all comes together and really starts looking like gravy.  It'll get thick which you want, but if it's too thick add in some broth.

You can and should do this right before you're going to eat so it's nice and hot when you put it into your gravy boat.  Do you have another simple recipe you like for gravy?!  Christmas is coming...do share.

...the great Christmas tree hunt..

Did you get yours?  It's a tradition in our family to go out and get it the day after Thanksgiving.  Benjamin had to work that day, so this year we made an exception and headed out on Saturday.

Thankfully, it was well worth it as we headed out to Snickers Gap Tree Farm where we cut one down....with our own bare hands.  Well, not quite.  With a saw.  Ok- Benjamin cut it down, with a saw.

I took lots of pictures and analyzed each tree, determining which would be the perfect fit.  I think we made a good selection, don't you think?

Once the tree was cut we were able to enjoy some hot cider and there was a farm there selling their organic beef.  Count me in!  I got 3 pounds of it and used some to make those awesome meatballs for the family that evening.

Before we headed home my parents drove us down the road to Bluemont where we enjoyed a Cab.  Not bad, Virginia- Your wine is getting better.  When we got home, the tree was "a little full, lots of sap."  Oh Christmas Vacation.  Another tradition- watching that movie right after Thanksgiving.  It's just too good and too fun to recite lines to as it plays.

The decorating of the tree happened on Sunday, and I think it turned out quite nice.  I still might string some popcorn to put around it, but for now, she's set.  We walked outside to see the view from the street- don't you love seeing everyone's trees popping out from their windows?

Happy Decorating!  


Happy Thanksgiving everyone! 

I hope you're enjoying this day filled with family, friends, gravy, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts (yes I said brussel sprouts) and much more. 

Here are some shots from today.  I'll post recipes later, but until then- enjoy the holiday and the official time we can now ring in Christmas!

...breakfast, lunch, or dinner quiche...

It seems as though I've been having a love affair with mushrooms this fall.  I just really love them.  It probably started when I made risotto, and has continued with this lovely quiche.

This recipe hails from Martha Stewart, and was pretty delicious.  I don't have pie weights (Christmas List please) but I was still able to make the crust.  It did shrink up, even though I punched some holes in it with a fork.  Oh well.  I really wanted to try this recipe out for it's flavor, and knew Benjamin wouldn't really care if the crust shrank.

The crust was delicious I must say- very savory and flaky.  And, this tart just seemed to get better with time.  To the point that when it showed up for either breakfast or lunch, there was a resounding, "this is just so good..."  It really is.  I think you should make it.  Maybe when all your family is around this weekend?  If you love them, you'll make this.  If you don't love them, well, maybe you won't make them anything hoping they leave.  That's just mean.

Swiss Chard, Mushroom, and White-Cheddar Quiche.  Loosely Adapted from Martha.

2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and cold
2 2/3 cups flour
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons ice water

3 tablespoons butter
1 pound baby bella mushrooms, sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 bunch Swiss Chard, rinsed and chopped
9 eggs
3 1/4 cups half-and-half
2 1/2 cups shredded sharp white cheddar

{One}:  Make the crust.  Pulse the butter, flour, and 1 teaspoon salt in food processor until it's crumbly.  Whisk egg, egg yolk and water.  Add to flour and pulse until combined.

{Two}: Roll out to a rectangle on plastic, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.  After that time, roll it out so that it'll fit your jelly roll pan (a baking pan with edges).  Fit into your baking pan, allowing there to be edges for the filling.  Freeze for 30 minutes.

{Three}: Preheat oven to 375.  At this point, you can par-bake the crust.  If you have parchment paper and pie weights, this is when you'd use them.  I didn't have either, so I placed holes with a fork in the crust, then baked the crust for 40 minutes.

{Four}: Reduce oven to 325.  Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet, add mushrooms and cook about 8 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper and place in a bowl.  Add remaining tablespoon of butter, cook garlic, then after a minute add chard and some more salt and pepper to season.  Cover and stir occasionally until tender, about 5 minutes.  Uncover, raise heat, and add back mushrooms.  Let the liquid evaporate, then take off the heat and allow to cool.

{Five}: Whisk eggs with half-and-half and 2 teaspoons salt.  Sprinkle 1 1/4 cups cheese on tart, add mushroom mixture, the rest of the cheese, then pour over egg mixture.  Bake until set, 35-45 minutes.  Let cool for about 15 minutes and serve.  Delicious I tell you!

...company crusted pork tenderloin...

Are you looking for something to have maybe Wednesday night?  Or Saturday when company is still in from out of town?  Try this.  Julie over at Fresh Basil posted about this recipe when she made it for some visitors, and I had to try it.  I got a pork tenderloin for about $6 which isn't bad, considering that'll feed us a few meals.

I tweaked the original recipe a bit- when don't I- and liked the variation I did here.  Again, surprise surprise, I used what I had in the fridge so I didn't have to go to the store.  I love a good grocery store, but around us we find well, not the best.

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light

Company Crusted Pork Tenderloin

Breadcrumb Mixture
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup rosemary, chopped
3 T. grated Parmesan
2 t. thyme

Mustard Mixture
2 T. dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic

Preheat oven to 450.
Season pork with salt and pepper.
Rub Mustard Mixture all over, then dredge in breadcrumb mixture.
Place on a cooking sheet that has cooking spray on it.

Bake at 450 for 25 minutes, or until just pink but done in the center, 160 degrees.  Let stand for 10 minutes then cut in and enjoy!

...welcome to the world sawyer!...

We all know how much I love this family.  Baby Sawyer now makes them a family of four which is just way too precious to me right now.  Congratulations you guys!  Isn't a baby around the holidays just the best?!  Not sure you could ask for a better present!

...boiled peanuts...

Have you ever made these?  One time when we were in South Carolina boiled peanuts came up in conversation.  Being from the Midwest and having lived in California for some time I thought, and then verbalized....what?!?!  The response I got from Mamma T was laughter mixed with, "You know!! Boiled peanuts."  To help you understand this you should probably stop saying "Boiled" as if it has two syllables in it.  In the South, it has ONE.  "Booowwwld"

Needless to say, I have yet to have them.  However, I don't think I'll be having them in a can as I saw at a grocery store off the beaten path in Virginia.  I guess I'm closer to the South than I thought after all... (I did fry something last night...shhh).

...spicy meatballs...

So I'm blogging a lot.  Are you getting totally bored or totally loving it?  Goal of pre-Thanksgiving is to be all caught up.  And, the goal is to tell you about meatballs that are so good, you should make them soon, and I should consider them a new staple in our house.  Also, they were found in the "Feed 4 for under $10" Meal section of Cooking Light.

I tweaked the recipe a bit, but it's pretty much the same as what you may find in the original recipe.  I just didn't have sesame oil, or chili paste.  Instead, I used Sriracha sauce.  Oh sweet sweet (hot hot hot) sauce.  So good.  You maybe bought it before for a recipe, and now is a great time to bust it out again.

I also added in about 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs as they weren't coming together as well as I would have liked.

The way you cook these is really important.  Sauteeing and then baking them is awesome.  You get the crisp outside, and the moist center.  Crisp yet moist.

Spicy Meatballs, adapted from Cooking Light

1/3 cup minced green onions
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic
1 pound ground sirloin
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 400.  Combine first 7 ingredients in a bowl.  Add beef, take off any rings you have on, and mix together, adding panko (as much as needed) so that it comes together well.

Heat a cast-iron skillet and add half the meatballs.  Let them cook about 3-4 minutes per side, then place on a cooking sheet coated with cooking spray.

Bake for 7 minutes, until done.  Serve over some orzo like we did, and enjoy!

... caramelized onion and bread soup...

Do you need a starter for Thanksgiving?  Maybe a nice soup that isn't exactly filling, but has an incredible flavor of caramelized onions no one can deny?  I saw this recipe next to one I used for Easter this year.  The closer I looked, the more I saw that I had all of these ingredients.  I love love love when I can throw something together with things I already have in the fridge, and in the pantry.

The taste of caramelized onions carries throughout, making this taste like a creamy French Onion Soup.

Recipe Loosely Adapted from Food and Wine.

3 slices wheat bread, cut into 1 inch squares
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 onions, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups water
4 cups reduced fat milk
1/2 cup half and half

Preheat the oven to 350 and toast the bread for 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, melt the butter then add in the onions.  Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes.  Reduce heat and cook uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring once and a awhile, and adding a few tablespoons of water throughout the deglaze the pan.

Add in the toasted bread, milk and water and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 5 minutes until bread is soft.  Using your immersion blender, or a blender itself, blend until there are no lumps and it's smooth.  Bring the soup back up to a simmer and season with salt and pepper.  Serve immediately.  Garnishing this soup with some chives adds a fresh look and bite.

...the balanced life guest post!...

Are you dying to find out more about this wonderful looking dish?  Head on over to The Balanced Life where you can read all about it!

Robin was so sweet to have me as a guest blogger today and I couldn't be more thrilled!  Talk about a girl who knows how to dish out fresh perspective and thoughts.  She's got some great recipes for healthy living, and with as much butter as I can cook with, I was happy to know I could share an incredible recipe with her, that is packed with nutrients and loads of flavor.

Happy reading!

...menu planning...

Are you trying to figure out what to eat this week like so many others right now?  My Mom and I just somewhat finalized the menu.  It'll involve...

A brined and then buttered turkey (first time for this way of doing it...I'll let you know how it goes!)
Mashed potatoes made with lots of sour cream AND butter
Sweet potatoes of some sort
Brussels sprouts involving bacon
Classic stuffing from a box (it's just too buttery and good)
A sausage corn bread form of stuffing (new this year)
Cranberry Sauce (my classic)
Pumpkin Pie
Pecan Pie 

I'm ready for pie and decaf coffee already.  Gotta make my grocery list today and get in the grove.  We'll show up Wednesday night with hopefully cranberry sauce, pecan pie, and stuffing in hand.

In other news, Thursday marks the time we can officially decorate.  I broke rules this year being such a rule breaker and all, and our house is somewhat decorated sans the tree we'll be cutting down ourselves on Saturday.  I'm pretty excited about it.

Happy decorating, eating, and being merry.  Lots of recipe's coming your way this week....