Sunday, November 28, 2010

Wine, Cheese, Chatter: Dinner party?

Thanksgiving has came and went in a flash this year!  All the preparation paid off and the day went smoothly and lots of food was enjoyed by all.  By the time the big day rolled around, I had most everything done aside from throwing the bird in and baking a couple things last minute.  I  used the Michigander Way for the turkey, which was nice and easy for a first timer like myself.

Right before I popped her in!
The turkey turned out fabulous; nice and juicy and tons of flavor.  It did cook a lot quicker than planned so that through a bit of a wrench into my timing of all the other things that had to be put in the oven too, but we worked it out and got everything done in time.  Phew!

My in-laws were pretty thrilled to walk in and smell all the food in the oven and see me sporting the apron they bought us (Ryan has a "Mr." of his own).

The afternoon before I made one of my favorite things: Pineapple Cake!  This is one of the easiest and an amazing dessert (my mom is the one that introduced me to this recipe).  I love, love, love the frosting and pineapple is one of my favorites so it's a winner in my book.  The recipe is as follows:

  • 1 3/4 c. flour
  •  2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 can crushed pineapple and juice
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
Preheat oven to 350. Mix all ingredients together and pour into a greased 9 x 13 inch pan.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.

  • 2 c. confectioners sugar
  • 1 stick butter
  • 8 oz. cream cheese 
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
Mix with handmixer until smooth and slather on cake once cake has cooled!

Gets nice and browned on top.
My favorite! Usually I share but I was home alone so it was all mine!

It's long gone now!
Considering it was the first time hosting a holiday for family it went really well!  We really would love to host more parties and are really thinking of having a dinner party of some sort with friends.  We'd like to have some sort of theme so I'm wracking my brain for ideas.  Anyone have any interesting dinner party ideas?  Real Simple has these invites that I love, in particular the wine, cheese and chatter one:
Is this not the cutest and most clever idea?  

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Eve.

I'm all about being prepared.  If you ask my husband he would probably tell you that I think it through and worry about having everything prepped way too much when it comes to hosting a party/dinner.  My thought behind all of this is that I want to spend the day enjoying myself with family and friends, instead of slaving away behind the stove.  Don't get me wrong, I love the cooking aspect of it, but want to spend as much time with our guests as possibly, hence why I spend the day before prepping as much as I can.

As you probably already guessed, today was spent preparing for tomorrow.  Initially, it was just going to be the husband & I, but his family is now coming up to celebrate with us.  The only thing that could make it better would be if my family was also able to make the trip, but traveling is a bit more difficult for my family.  I woke up and headed to the kitchen right away.  First thing I started on was the cranberry sauce that I can wait to dive into.

I started with 3 cups of fresh cranberries, added the juice and zest of one tangerine, 1/3 cup of water, 3/4 cup of sugar and dash of allspice.  Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, and then lower temp and simmer for 25 minutes. Once it cools it thickens up.

Let me tell you: This smells amazing.  I love pairing a nice juicy turkey breast with the sweetness of cranberry.

After this was complete, I jumped into the next project of stuffing.  Originally I planned on making an artichoke stuffing, but was unable to get all the ingredients needed, so instead improvised.  I'm always trying to make sure to waste as little as I can when it comes to food in our house.  Often times I'll find a recipe that sounds amazing, but use it as a base and add and subtract ingredients based on what we have in the house and what needs to be used.  For the most part it always works well, so I'm crossing my fingers that this one does as well.  

Recipe is as follows:

  • 3 celery stalks, chopped into 1/4-1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 granny smith apples chopped (with skin)
  • 2 small onions - diced
  • 2 medium loaves of french bread (it's what we had that needed used, could substitute).  Around 8 cups of bread needed.
  • 1 1/4 cup of chicken broth
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1-2 teaspoons of italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning.
Heat oven to 375 & coat baking dish with butter.
Chop your bread of choice into small cubes.

Melt the butter in a saucepan.  Once melted add the celery. apple and onion and saute until the apples are easily pierced with a fork.  

Add your broth, and also the poultry and italian seasoning and bring to boil.  Once you reach boil, reduce temperature and simmer for 5 minutes or so.

Add your veggie & broth mixture to your bread cubes and mix well, making sure it is evenly distributed.

Place into baking dish and bake for 30-40 minutes until the top of the stuffing starts to brown.

I stored mine in a bowl and covered and placed in the fridge until tomorrow when I plan on baking it.  The smell of it alone has me excited for tomorrow.

What's everyone's holiday plans?  Anything in particular that you are making or excited to make?

Monday, November 22, 2010

All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast.

Weeks ago, Julie, at Peanut Butter Fingers, posted about her trip to a Pom Wonderful Factory.  Pom Wonderful is one of the leading pomegranate companies that grow, harvest and process pomegranates.  Seeing all these bright, tasty looking fruit piqued my interests and inspired me to pick a few up the next time I was at the grocery store.  Let me tell you....they are amazing.  Biting into the arils (the little covering of the seeds) produces a little pop and then a whole lot of juicy flavor.  It is a bit of work to get to the arils, but its well worth it.

There are several ways to open a pom, but this explains it pretty well and seems to be the easiest way to do it.  I do recommend wearing some gloves because these stain your hands pretty badly.  I always throw on a apron too so I don't stain my clothes.


This morning I decided that since I had some of the arils and mango (frozen) on hand I'd add it to my oatmeal.  I was never really an oatmeal person until I started adding lots of fruit goodies to it.  Made such a difference and is now one of my favorite morning go-to's.  

So great! Easy way to add some fruit to your diet and get yourself moving in the morning.

I'd love some more ideas on what to make with the pomegranate and any awesome oatmeal add-in's you might have.  I love the arils on their own, but would love a tried and true recipe to give a try. 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pillow Talk

As I was perusing through my Google Reader last night I came across these amazing tutorials for pillows from Cluck Cluck Sew and think I am in love:

I've had a sewing machine that my Mom gave me sitting in the closet for about a year now that I may just have to bust out for the holiday season.  I can just think of so many amazing gifts that could be made and have a growing list of sewing projects for the house.  The last time that I pulled out the sewing machine I had some issues getting it started since I hadn't used one in years.  I'm really going to try and get things moving this week and pull it out and get started on striking some things off the list.  

Anyone else have any wonderful craft ideas that have them inspired for the holiday season?  

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Prepping the bird.

I've been thinking a lot about Thanksgiving this year.  This year will be the first year that I am not able to spend it with the whole family and though it saddens me that we won't be able to spend it with our entire family, I'm determined to have a fabulous one with our little family.   We will be spending it in our home, just the 3 of us (me, husband and our dog), with a home cooked meal and some Christmas decorating.

I consider myself a relatively experienced cook.  I spend a lot of time perusing the web for yummy meals to try and usually have a pretty good basis of what I'm doing, however, turkeys a whole new experience. Standing at the grocery store alone trying to decide what turkey to get along with all the other turkey panicked shoppers was an experience in itself.  Let's just hope it turns out well.  And that it doesn't burn.

I've started a tentative menu plan:

I'm thinking I'd like some snacks for during the day.  Any suggestions?  What are your Thanksgiving traditions?