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. 
 

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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!

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

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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. 

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

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Start sawing...

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...keep going...

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The perfect tree for me, a concolor fir

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Success!!

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Lara got one too!

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New friends, Chevy and Ford

 
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MERRY CHRISTMAS!! 

 

Thanksgiving 2016

Thanksgiving is over once again. It's now December and as I sit and type this the snow is falling outside, beautiful yet I'm not ready. I don't want to have to think about scraping my ice off of my windshield in the early morning, or trudging through piles of snow. But today I'm going to look back, not ahead. Back to last week Thursday. Thanksgiving 2016. This year I was even more thankful to be able to celebrate the day with my family because of my crazy work schedule. I was in the middle of an (almost) 28 day stretch of work, so when I found out that I actually did get Thanksgiving day off I was incredibly excited! That one day was very much needed. 

It was a pretty quiet holiday this year; just my immediate family went over to my Grandparents place for the big meal, only 9 of us. Since I didn't know in advance exactly how many people would be there, I went big an ordered a large turkey just in case. Well, it was quite a bit bigger than we needed, but that was okay. Plenty of leftovers is not a bad problem. 

 
 
 

I brought a wine from my favorite wine shop to Thanksgiving this year. It was recommended by one of the store employees and I enjoyed it quite a bit! A Spanish wine, Bodegas Juan Gil 2013 100th anniversary bottle. A commemorative  bottle blended and bottled to mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Juan Gil winery. A blend of 50% Mourvedre, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 25% Syrah. Grandpa approved! 

 
 

The week following Thanksgiving brought my family and me something, or should I say someone, else to be thankful for. My sister-in-law gave birth to her and my brother's second child, a little girl they names Piper. She's beautiful and perfect. I'm already in love. I can't wait to get to know her in the months and years to come! 

 

Thanksgiving 2014

I truly do love all holidays, but there is something special about Thanksgiving. Everyone gets together on the same day every year and stuffs themselves with turkey and all the trimmings. The camaraderie makes me smile, and the fact that the main focus of a lot of people (myself included) is the food makes me love the day even more. For one day I am not the only one doing all of the food talk. 

My sister Lara and I made the Thanksgiving meal for our family again this year. We have such a fun time doing it and have been thinking about it and preparing for weeks. Instead of going full out and roasting an entire turkey we decided to do something a little different this year. One of my biggest pet peeves about Thanksgiving is that the turkey hogs the oven for the entire morning and I can't use it for anything else. (I am jealous of everyone who has more than one oven in their house.) We decided to utilize the grill instead. And for a different spin on the traditional we skipped the whole turkey and decided to grill up a whole bunch of turkey kabobs. 

It turned out great! I loved not cooking an entire turkey, and it was fun to use the grill while standing in a bit of snow. An experience for sure. We tried to keep the sides simple and light as well because that's how we like to eat. Everything went off without a hitch, we were so happy with how it all turned out. I would definitely do it again next year!

As for the rest of the meal, it started off with some butternut squash soup with leeks and carrots, finished with a little yogurt for creaminess. Next, the salad was a spin on the Fuji apple chicken salad from Panera; we sliced up a few apples and dried them out for apple chips, toasted some pecans with a hint of cinnamon sugar, thinly sliced red onion, dried cranberries and some feta cheese rounded out the toppings. The mixed greens were dressed with a simple white balsamic, apple cider vinaigrette with honey and dijon. It was a fantastic salad, Panera sure knew what they were doing when they created it!

We also served some homemade bread and my favorite Clementine Brown Rice Salad. A few extras finished the meal off, a simple cranberry sauce as well as a yummy lemony sage yogurt sauce, both for dipping the turkey into if desired (which I did!). 

While we were finishing up the cooking we served our guests a simple platter of cheese and crackers with some grapes and carrots. Just a little something to whet the appetite. I made a simple sangria and had some apple cider for some festive drinks to go along with the meal. And finally, a pumpkin bundt cake added the finishing touch to a fantastic Thanksgiving. I was so glad to be able to share my love of cooking with my family on this festive day. I am so thankful for all my family members who were able to come and celebrate the holiday together, as well as for all the delicious food we were so privileged to eat. I am so blessed, and for that I am extremely grateful, all year long! God is good is an understatement.

 Simple, yet scrumptious appetizer

 A little cold weather grilling never hurt anyone

 Plenty of drink options

 Dried fruit, pecan and feta salad

 Squash soup

And don't forget the turkey!

Turkey kabobs, my take on the traditional 

 This is what I like to see on Thanksgiving

And never, ever forget about dessert