Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thanksgiving Take 3- Just Desserts

If you thought our Thanksgiving meal was enticing, you should see what we served for dessert! I was at work on Wednesday, so Josh was on pie duty. Luckily, he's the household pie expert, so everything was in great hands.

He started with a homemade apple pie and crust. YUM!

Inaugural use of our Kitchen Aid.
Josh went with a traditional family recipe.
And made a great dough for the crust.
Before chopping up the apples.
To make the inside of the pie.
Which smelled delicious.
The crust was perfect!
And the pie itself was great.
Josh has definitely mastered the art of making an apple pie!

After he was finished with the apple pie, Josh went on to make the best pumpkin pie I have ever eaten. (and I am a very picky pumpkin pie eater)

Pumpkin Pie making time.
Look at those insides.
Ready to serve.
Best pie plate ever.
On top of pumpkin pie and apple pie we served fruit salad and turkey cookies.

Everyone was well fed!

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I hope yours was just as great!

Thanksgiving Take 2- The Main Course

While we were able to pull off Thanksgiving dinner, we did have a lot to do first. Our menu was extensive, but luckily our guests helped us with much of the cooking. We started Thanksgiving morning by tackling 2 types of mashed potatoes and the turkey.

First up, traditional mashed potatoes

Josh peeled the potatoes while I got everything ready for mashing

Josh then cut and boiled them up nice

While I mashed and added in some tasty ingredients
(soy milk, margarine, salt, pepper, and paprika)

Ready to serve
After making the traditional mashed potatoes, Josh and I took on the sweet mashed potatoes.

All of our tasty ingredients (minus the marshmallows!)
Once again, Josh was on peeling duty
And I took on the mashing (with the help of the Kitchen Aid)
After I finished mashing and adding in the ingredients
(soy milk, margarine, light brown sugar, and marshmallows before serving)
I got the dish ready for the oven. Yum!
While I was working on the potatoes, Josh was making the salad, appetizers, dip, and fruit salad. All of which were delicious. And of course, while all of this was going on, the turkey was cooking away. Josh was 100% in charge of all things turkey.

We chose to make our turkey with olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika, rosemary and thyme.

Prepped and ready to go!

Cooked and delicious
I was pretty impressed with us. It was a lot of work and took longer than we expected, but it was really fun to be able to plan, cook, and make a holiday meal for our family.

If you thought this was good, just wait until you see what we served for dessert!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving Take 1

4 day weekends are a gift from the universe. This Thanksgiving holiday was no exception. I felt so rested and so relaxed by Sunday night.

In 4 short days Josh and I bookend-ed our weekend with 2 killer spin classes, cooked for and hosted Thanksgiving, slept in a lot, watched Eat, Pray, Love , went to my 10 year high school reunion, had a fun date night with good friends, relaxed some more, and had more friends over for leftovers. It was the perfect mix of busy and lazy.

However, before we could be lazy and relax on Sunday, we had to get prepared for Thanksgiving.

The first thing Josh and I did to prepare for my parents, his parents, and my aunt and uncle (after all of the shopping) was to set the table. This sounds easier than it was. It was the first time using our new dining room set, china, and serving pieces. We were not 100% sure how everything would work. But luckily, it all came together and was my favorite part of the entire process. Having all of the right 'tools' makes it a lot easier to have company...and a lot more fun too! I am already excited to be able to host another formal dinner with all of our new stuff.

The whole table set.

The individual place settings.
I love our china! Each plate has a different, but similar, pattern.

The inside of our crystal matches the flowers on our china perfectly

Murano glass flower candle sticks made the perfect centerpiece
by adding some color and tying in the flower pattern and silver in the china

After setting the table it was time to cook like crazy and pull off the meal. When our guests arrived, we served some appetizers to tie everyone over while we finished up in the kitchen.

We served apps in the living room

So we could deal with all of this in the kitchen.
Eventually, we got everything out and on the table, ready to be served.

Salad first.
And then all the fixings.

A nicely loaded up plate.

I guess it was good.

For more on what we made and our desserts, check back tomorrow!

Spin Doctor

Wednesday night Josh and I met Andre, spin doctor to the stars.

No, not that kind of spin doctor. A spin doctor.

My relationship with Andre was much like that of one with a bad boyfriend. He walked in all cute with his big muscles and nice smile. He chatted with me about Boston College (we both got our Masters' Degrees there) and the impending Thanksgiving holiday. I totally had a spin crush. And then the class started.

Once Andre took the reins of the class it was all over. This man who I thought was so nice, literally beat me down to a pulp, and then stepped on me some more. I no longer had a crush on Andre. He was a mean spin instructor, the kind who took pleasure out of making you feel pain. He was taking me down a notch, and he was downright someone I never wanted to see again. I was definitely going to spin break up with him as soon as I got the chance. And then the class ended.

Not only did I survive Andre's killer spin class, I dominated. I kept up with him, I pushed myself harder than I ever had before, and I felt great in the end. Andre's approval came quickly after the class and I was feeling high and back to spin crushing on him. I will never miss another Andre spin class again! I sense a masochistic spin relationship in my future.

And yes, Josh was sitting next to me, dying during the class and loving every second of it. He too is sold on Andre as a spin instructor.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Class of 2000

I can't believe I have been out of high school for over 10 years! So much has changed in 10 years. I went away to college, lived in DC and worked on Capital Hill, come back home, went to grad school, worked in many different political jobs, bought a house, got married, and started working in academia. That's a lot!

Tonight I have my high school reunion. I can't wait to see so many old friends, catch up, and see what they have been up to in the last 10 years.  I am very excited to give Josh a glimpse into my life in high school and to have him meet a lot of people I grew up with. I am even more excited to see many of my good friends that I get to talk to a lot, but not always see so often. It should be a really fun night.

Happy Reunion SHS Class of 2000!

Year 2000

When I graduated high school in the year 2000 I looked like this

and listened to this over and over and over

Ready for my 10 year reunion tonight!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Menu

Today is the big day! After all of our practicing and all of our planning, it is finally here. The house smells like turkey, football is on in the background, and we are getting ready for our guests to arrive.

On the menu today is:

  • cut up veggies and dip
  • mini hot dogs and mustard
  • latkes and applesauce
  • warm mulled apple cider
Main Meal
  • herb and spice turkey
  • gravy
  • homemade cranberry sauce
  • traditional stuffing
  • sautéed green beans
  • mashed potatoes
  • mashed sweet potatoes with marshmallows
  • tossed salad
  • corn bread
  • pumpkin bread 
  • sticky pecan rolls
  • homemade apple pie
  • homemade pumpkin pie
  • fruit salad
I hope all 8 of us can handle all of this food! Check back for pictures and recipes of our 1st Thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving 
to you and your family.

Enjoy your day. We will certainly be enjoying ours.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I Am Thankful For So Much

At the risk of sounding cheesy and like I am working on a 4th grade homework assignment, this year, of all years, I could not pass up this opportunity.

This past year has been like no other. My life is forever changed and my eyes are open to many more opportunities than I could have ever imagined. I am grateful and humbled by all that has happened to me and all that I have worked so very hard for. I do not take my good fortune for granted, and I now understand why I needed to struggle for so long before I could succeed. I will never forget this feeling and I will always wake up feeling like I won the greatest prize in the whole world. I am happier than I have ever been and know, without a shadow of a doubt, that this is how my life is supposed to be.

And so, in light of all of this, here are just a few of the many, many things I am thankful for. 
  1. I am thankful that I have the most supportive husband on the planet. I have said it all before, but I am so lucky that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me.
  2. I am thankful that I have 2 seriously great parents. There is no one else I would rather talk to, hang out with, and be around then them. They are my pillars and the ones who taught me to be the person that I am.
  3. I am thankful for the coolest A+L and the best family in the world. They support and inspire me to never stop pushing myself and to always want to explore the world.
  4. I am thankful for all of my friends, new and old. Life is just better when they are around.
  5. I am thankful for my girls. The last year would have been impossible without them, and the memories I have from growing up with them are among my most precious possessions.
  6. I am thankful for my health and the health of my family and friends. Life is too short, but being together for celebrations is the best gift of all.
  7. I am thankful for my job. Not only in the general sense, but I am so happy to have found something that pushes me intellectually, allows me to sharpen my skills, and encourages me to dream bigger than I ever dared to before. (I am also thankful for my insanely short commute and to not be taking public transportation anymore)
  8. I am thankful to be a homeowner. Josh and I worked long and hard to be able to find our house, purchase it, put it together, and decorate it the way we wanted. I love those rare moments when we are just quietly hanging out in the house and remember to take it all in.
  9. I am thankful to be able to host Thanksgiving this year. I am so excited to do this for our families. They have done so much for us through our lives and certainly this last year, being able to do this for them means the world to me.
  10. Last, but certainly not least, I am thankful for you, my blog readers. I never imagined when I started writing this summer that I would be here today. I am more appreciative than you could ever know, and am in awe of what is happening. Your ongoing support, feedback, ideas, and constant readership encourages me every day to sit down and write about my crazy life. Thank you.
*I am also thankful to be a featured blogger on foodieblogroll.com this week
*and to have seen this on boston.com all day Tuesday under the Community Section:
Your Blogs- Madison Ave Musings: Obstacles and nasty attitudes

Happy Thanksgiving!

Chicken Kick

With Josh in charge of the meals this week, we have been eating a lot chicken. I guess my decision to give up chicken all together is on a temporary hold!

Even if I do not love eating every aspect of the actual meals, I love what Josh has been up to in the kitchen. Cooking for Thanksgiving has totally inspired him to be a master chef...just another reason I love him! The other night he made a whole chicken. Last night, he made his world famous grilled lemon chicken and delicious sauteed spinach. YUM!

Grilled Lemon Chicken
2-4 pieces of boneless chicken
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
pinch of lemon zest
1-2 cloves of minced garlic
sour salt
salt and pepper
2-4 slices of lemon

1) Combine lemon juice, olive oil, lemon zest, minced garlic in a resealable bag with chicken
2) Shake it up and let the marinade work its magic for at least 10 minutes (though the longer, the better)
3)Place chicken on pan (or grill) and sprinkle with sour salt, basil, salt, and pepper
4)Add a slice of lemon on yop

If grilling, use medium/medium high heat.

The recipe can easily be done in the oven, cook at 375F

Sauteed Spinach with Toasted Pine Nuts
Bunch of spinach
Pine Nuts
Olive Oil
1 cloves of garlic
1/2 a small shallot
Salt and Pepper
1/2 lemon
red wine vinegar

Toasted Pine Nuts:
Place the pine nuts in a toaster oven for a few minutes on high heat until they brown.
Place a little olive oil in a pan and add the pine nuts. Allow them to brown slightly.

1) Clip the ends off the spinach
2) Chop garlic and shallot
3) Saute olive oil, garlic, and shallots until  garlic begins to brown
4) Add  spinach and lower the heat (add more olive oil if necessary)
5) Keep the spinach moving
6) After spinach wilts, add  lemon juice from  1/2 a lemon
7) Season to taste with salt, pepper, and red wine vinegar (about 1/4 cup)
8) Add pine nuts

It was a pretty fantastic meal. I have definitely been spoiled lately with Josh's creativity :)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Dry Run

Although Josh knows that chicken and turkey are not the same bird and that they do not cook exactly the same way, he decided to make us a whole chicken for dinner this weekend. He thought it would help him practice for Thanksgiving.

He bought a small chicken and seasoned it the same way we had talked about seasoning our turkey on the big day. He also practiced using the meat thermometer, timing the meal, carving, and plating. As the benefactor of the dress rehearsal, I totally endorsed the idea.

Of course on the big day we will be working in tandem, juggling many different dishes, trying to keep the kitchen relatively clean, all the while entertaining our guests, but this trial was a great and delicious idea. Josh made a yummy chicken, we had a great dinner, and both felt a bit more confident about our Thanksgiving hosting duties.

getting to roast a whole chicken

seasoned and ready to go

with potatoes and onions

while testing out our new meat thermometer

check out that deliciousness
master carver at work (he is officially ready for Thanksgiving!)

all cut up! Bring on the Turkey!

final product

Thanks Josh for a yummy pre-Thanksgiving dry run. It was great. All of our guests are in for a real treat in a few days.