Thanksgiving 2017

I love Thanksgiving. The food, getting together with family, cooking and baking, eating and talking, even the football watching. It's all so festive and lovely. My favorite part is probably the weeks leading up to the big Thursday, thinking of a menu, trying to come up with the right blend of tradition and innovation. My family and I don't see eye to eye on this so it can be challenging to come up with food to please everyone, but I do feel like this year was a pretty decent success. 


Here's the menu: 

Balsamic Glazed and Lacquered Turkey
(adapted from Bon Appetit, year 3 for this baby and still a winner! This time
replaced the sherry vinegar with balsamic and [accidentally] doubled
the sugar, a happy mistake!)

Pan roasted brussel sprouts with cracked wheat berries and tahini dressing
(adapted from Plenty More by Yotam Ottolehghi - replaced the green
beans for something more seasonal)

Spicy greens salad with roasted golden cauliflower, fresh mozzarella and candied lemon peel
(also adapted from Plenty More, this time replaced the artichoke
hearts with the cauliflower)

Marbled pumpkin and chocolate bundt cake with chocolate glaze and hazelnuts
(From The Pastry Affair)

Fresh cranberry sauce with orange zest

There were a few additional dishes from other family members (Thanks everyone) to round out the meal. These included sourdough and brown sugar stuffed pumpkins, jello salad, and great grandma's fudge. All in all a fantastic meal!


Leftovers! Such a wonderful thing! Fresh salads with Turkey and miso noodle soup garnished with fresh cilantro. 


On the final day of the Thanksgiving weekend, Lara and I drove up north to Cedar Springs where I finally got to cut down my very own Christmas tree - something I've always wanted to do! Lara had met a new couple through church friends a few weeks earlier, and they started talking about her parent's Christmas Tree Farm so of course we had to go check it out. Red Flannel Tree Farm is the cutest, most picturesque place to cut down a Christmas tree that you can imagine. They have horse drawn wagons (or sleighs [!] if it's snowing, I was jealous!) to take you out to the trees. They had a wonderful variety of pines and firs of all sizes and shapes. They then have a barn full of old farm paraphernalia, some of which is for sale, and free hot chocolate to warm up with after cutting down your tree. They also have tree stands and some wreaths and other decor for sale. I had an absolute blast and want to go back and do it all over again! They're only open 3 weekends and said the trees were going extra fast this year so I'm glad I headed up to finally get the experience I've been wanting for a long time. 


With a tiny apartment, you only need a tiny tree!!


Start sawing...


...keep going...


The perfect tree for me, a concolor fir




Lara got one too!


New friends, Chevy and Ford




Roasted Potato Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

As I mentioned a

few days ago

, last Sunday we had a little party for my mom's 60th birthday. Lara and I were in charge of the food, and we decided on a salad bar with all the fixings. On top of the do-it-yourself bar, we wanted a few pre-made salads as well. After scouring the internet, we finally settled on two recipes. A pasta salad as well as this roasted potato salad. I don't make potato salads often, so I was excited for the opportunity to give this recipe a try. I am a huge mustard fan, so the idea of a mustard vinaigrette on my potato salad sounded wonderful. 

At the farmers market the day before the party, I found the most beautiful display of baby potatoes; yellow, red and purple. They were absolutely gorgeous, just the thing for this wonderful salad. It's a simple salad, but full of freshness from the basil and scallions, and wonderful variations in texture from the creamy potatoes to the raw walnuts. Topped with the delicious mustardy vinaigrette, this was my definition of a perfect potato salad.

Here are a few pictures from the rest of the party. Lots of toppings options to let everyone make their own salad. We had chicken, ham, chickpeas, mushrooms and lost of different vegetables, grilled corn, cucumbers, carrots, radishes, onions, tomatoes, etc. A few cheese options and two dressings, a homemade ranch, and a lemony vinaigrette, topped it all off. There was a bread basket with whipped honey butter, a fruit salad, and of course, dessert! Check out


post to read about the absolutely fantastic cupcakes! All in all it was a great party, and a wonderful way to celebrate the best mom on her extra special day! 

A look at the salad bar options

The Van Zee girls, all looking good!

Pasta salad, potato salad, fruit salad and the bread bowl!

Roasted Potato Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

Adapted from 




  • 4 pounds mixed marble potatoes, or other small potatoes
  • 1 cup walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch basil, leaves torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 bunch scallions, white and green parts thinly sliced crosswise


  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons roasted walnut oil (is probably fantastic, but I didn't have any!)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Preheat oven to 425° F and line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

Wash and dry potatoes, then spread evenly between baking sheets. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to evenly coat potatoes. Sprinkle with freshly-ground black pepper and sea salt, then roast, shaking the pans occasionally, until potatoes are tender and browning (about 45 minutes, depending on the size of your potatoes).

Meanwhile, prepare vinaigrette. Place garlic cloves on a cutting board, sprinkle with a generous couple pinches of sea salt, and chop and mash with the side of your knife until the clove breaks down into a salty paste.

Add garlic paste to a small bowl along with mustards, lemon juice, and vinegar. Whisk to emulsify. Add olive and walnut oils and whisk vigorously to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning with additional sea salt and pepper.

When potatoes are done, transfer to a large bowl. Add scallions and dressing, and toss to coat. Using the back of a mixing spoon or the end of a wooden spatula, roughly smash some of the potatoes to break the skins. You’re not making mashed potatoes, but breaking the potatoes down will allow them to soak up more of the vinaigrette.

Allow dressed potatoes to sit at room temperature for about 45 minutes to one hour. Just before serving, stir in walnuts and basil.

Tangy Coleslaw with Red Onion and Parsley

One of my favorite farmers market purchases during the summer is a nice big head of cabbage. They are usually so big and beautiful, and so inexpensive. Yesterday I saw a nice sized head of cabbage for $1! That feels almost free to me. I am a big cabbage fan so I frequently end up buying a head every couple of weeks through the summer. There is so much you can do with cabbage. I love roasting it with a little olive oil, vinegar and salt. So easy and so delicious and you can eat it hot out of the oven or store it in the fridge and eat it cold throughout the week. 

As much as I love roasted cabbage, during the summer you just have to make a nice big batch of coleslaw every now and then. I love coleslaw, and there are so many different variations that you can play around with. This recipe for tangy coleslaw is a delicious option. It is a little creamy thanks to the Greek yogurt, yet nice and tangy from the cider vinegar. A hint of mustard and some honey for sweetness round out the flavors nicely. I finished it with some minced red onion and chopped parsley for freshness and a little color. Remember this recipe next time you see a nice head of cabbage for sale, you won't regret it!

I don't like my coleslaw to be swimming in dressing, but if you like yours a little saucier, I'd go ahead and double the dressing. How much dressing you need will also depend on the size of your cabbage. Although you can eat this coleslaw immediately after eating it, it only improves with time, so if you have the time, let it sit in the fridge for a few hours, or overnight, to let the flavors meld and it will be even better!

Tangy Coleslaw with Red Onion and Parsley

From Jana


  • 1/4 head green cabbage, finely shredded or chopped
  • 2 tablespoons minced red onion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1-2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt to taste


Put your shredded or chopped cabbage in a large bowl. Add the minced red onion and the chopped parsley. Stir to combine. 

In a small bowl, whisk together the cider vinegar, Greek yogurt, dijon mustard, honey, olive oil and salt. 

Pour dressing over cabbage. Toss to combine well. If needed, make a little more dressing and add that to the coleslaw. You can eat immediately, but I've found that the flavors just improve as it sits so if you have time let it rest in the fridge a few hours before serving.