Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving recap

Lets pretend it's two days ago - Happy Thanksgiving! :)

Ok, back to reality.

Thanksgiving was a great success this year! Yay. We spend it with my in-laws and most of the extended family, plus my parents come also... which totally alleviates the whole "splitting the holiday" stress. Thank you, Lord. Ted & I go to my parents house on Thanksgiving morning for breakfast with my family, so my parents, us, & my brother can all spend it together. It's just a day packed with family & food. All the food was amazing. Our smoked turkey came out awesome. My pies came out pretty darn good also. My pecan pie in the Oreo crust was a hit! One of Ted's uncles told me it was the best pecan pie he's ever had, and that he's had a lot of pecan pie. Comments like that make it ALL worth it. My apple pie didn't come out quite how I was expecting, but it was still really yummy. My pumpkin pie was delicious. I also made a last minute peanut butter pie and it was a hit! Of course, the easiest pie that took me all of 10 minutes to make was the biggest hit. It was such a big hit I'm adding it into the permanent Thanksgiving pie line-up. It was delicious, I can't deny that.

All in all it was a fab Thanksgiving. I love spending it with so much family all around. And then of course there's the leftovers. Last year I unknowingly started our own little family tradition. We had all these Thanksgiving leftovers and I wanted to do something special with them because we didn't really have enough of anything for more then one meal for each of us. What I ended up doing was making a Thanksgiving leftovers Shepard's pie. There's no recipe. Simply layer your favorite leftovers in a pan, top with mashed potatoes, top that with breadcrumbs if you like, and bake until everything is hot & bubbly. Ted has been talking about that meal for the last year, especially the last few days. He made sure that he scavenged as many leftovers as he could. We have leftover turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, & dressing. I'm thinking I will add in a can of cream of mushroom soup with the meats for moisture, and I will add in a can of corn so we have some sort of freshness & a veggie in there. Monday evenings dinner will be Yum-O for sure. I'll let you know how it goes.

Oh, we were telling one of Ted's aunts about how I made that Shepard's pie last year and she said she does something similar but she tops her with crescent rolls for the top layer. OMG. That has to be to die for.

Friday, November 19, 2010

pie edition

This post is all about the pies I'm making for Thanksgiving. Woo!

Pumpkin Pie - the BEST pumpkin pie, if you ask me. I started making this one a few years ago and now I get regular requests for it every year. I happily oblige. The only difference between the recipe and what I make is that I use graham cracker crust. My mom hates regular pie crust, so I try to make as many pies in graham cracker crusts as I can. I really think the graham cracker crust adds to this recipe to make it even better. Beware: this recipe makes WAY MORE then enough filling for a 9" pie pan. I usually pour any extra into ramekins and we have "pumpkin pie pudding".

Pecan Pie - So, my husband refuses to attend Thanksgiving if there's no pecan pie. This man knew the way to my heart from the beginning. I love pecan pie. I never took a stab at making it until we started dating & I promised I would make him one for Thanksgiving. As you can see, Yes, I make the Karo Syrup Pecan Pie. I needed a fool proof recipe the first time I made it and I figured the Karo recipe was it. It was. It's such a huge hit every time I make it that I just haven't even tried any other recipe. Plus I found out my Grandma makes a mean pecan pie and she's always used that recipe also. If it's good enough for Grandma, it's good enough for me.

Apple Pie - It's no secret in my family that pie dough & I do not get along. The first year a started making holiday pies and attempted to make my own dough, well... it ended with me balling up the dough, hurling it in the trash, and crying. Sad & funny, but true. I'm not even going to lie and say I make my own dough, or not address the issue & let you think I do. I don't. I use this. In the past I've used these. And I'm ok with it, no more tears pie crust. So anyways, the thought of making my first ever Apple Pie with double crust? Terrifying. Which is why I'll be omitting the top crust (it's my kitchen!) and using a simple crunch topping. Doesn't everyone like crunch topping anyways? This recipe has awesome reviews so I'm hoping it's a hit.

It's ok, you can throw virtual stones at me for using pre-made pie crust. I've accepted my short coming and moved on because the pies are still delicious! Just don't tell Grandma.

I'm toying with the idea of making either cookies or a chocolate/marble bundt cake for people who ::gasp:: don't like pie. Who doesn't like pie, by the way?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

more more more

As I promised, I'm sharing more recipes and general cooking info today.

I've made this recipe twice so far. It's really becoming a favorite.

The first time I made it exactly as the recipe goes, with the mashed potatoes & broccolini. Well, I did change one thing. I didn't use chicken sausage. I actually used this awesome Jennie-O ground turkey. Overall I loved this whole meal. The potatoes were really just "Ok" for me, but that's easy enough to omit from the meal. If you make this let me just warn you - it is not the prettiest meal you'll ever make, but it is soooo yummy & the leftovers are awesome.

The second time I made this recipe I just did regular ol' mashed potatoes, and for the veggie I did roasted Brussels sprouts - YUM. I love Brussels sprouts. I am aware this makes me weird, I'm ok with that. They're delicious. Ted definitely gave me the "side eye" when he saw them, but he even liked them. (or so he said?).

A few weeks ago we made our own canned jalapeno relish. Preface: We went to dinner at Slaters 50/50 and Ted got their jalapeno relish on his burger, and it was love at first bite. After that he went on & on for days about how good it was and then dropped the bomb on me saying "I want to make our own jalapeno relish and can it." My reaction was "wtf?! are you crazy?! who knows how to can?!" Of course I'm an awesome wife so I really just said those things in my head, and then smiled and said "Ok!" or something to that effect. Well we did it. It was stressful & fun at the same time. I admit I was worried and right before we started I was thinking of any excuse to get out of it. I'm really glad we did it, though. It made Ted really happy & he's already gotten a few requests for it from other people. We're thinking about giving it out at Christmas. Luckily our batch will be ready to eat just in time for Thanksgiving, so you know it's on our table this year.

Speaking of canning... I'm not completely determined/obsessed with making & canning my own apple butter to give out with our jalapeno relish. A whole sweet & spicy thing.

Tomorrow I'm going to let you know what pies I'll be making for Thanksgiving... since ya know, I demanded that I make them all... that's going to come back to bite me in the ass. When my in-laws were calling people to invite them to Thanksgiving and find out what they were bringing, they also let them know about the "no store bought pie" rule this year, and apparently a few people replied with "Well her pies better be good then." Ouch.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


There's been lots of cooking going on at our house. There have been several times I've thought "I need to blog about this!" But then the time comes and I have zero inspiration or gumption to follow through. Today, I'm following through despite the fact that it feels like my brain is lugging around cement blocks today.

What have I been reading lately? Nada. It's sad, I know! I'm the kind of person who has to know everything about everything before I can make a decision. It's really a hindrance more than a help. Well I got into this kick where I had to know everything about everything about having babies. So I become completely engulfed in reading baby/labor books. Yes, I had a problem. No, I'm not pregnant. So basically I've read 316545321 baby books and 0 fun books the last few months. I'm actually starting to miss reading just for fun, so hopefully I will start back up soon.

So now back to cooking... there's been lots of it happening at Casa Us.

First things first - dessert. Paula's Loaded Oatmeal Cookies. They are divine. They smell warm, just like an oatmeal cookie should. I didn't use walnuts because lets all be honest - walnuts are the worst nuts. Blech. If you like them then I'm sorry, & you're wrong allowed your own opinion :) In all honesty, I know I'm weird because I don't like them. I mean - who doesn't like walnuts?! This girl. Back to the cookies - they're amazing & wonderful and probably the best oatmeal cookie you will ever eat. I promise.

I made those cookies after two utter & complete failures at other cookies. I mean, failures that would make Betty Crocker beat me senseless. And I would deserve it. We won't talk anymore about those, though.

Last week I was without any & all inspiration for dinner. I wanted to make this corn & Anaheim pepper thing that my father in law made years ago. I mean, this dish he made was amazing. Everyone loved it, but he hated it so he's never made it since. Unfortunately the store I went to didn't have Anaheim peppers. A few hop, skips, and jumps (in my head) later I walked out of the store with bell peppers. We had left over cooked rice that I knew I wanted to use up. I ended up heating the rice, sauteing the corn with the bell pepper (chopped), also included were garlic & onion. I then combined the sauteed mixture with the heated rice, making it a sort of pilaf-but-not-really thing. I don't even know what you would call it but it was really good, if I do say so myself.

For Thanksgiving this year we are bringing a smoked turkey. Talk about Yum. We had never smoked a turkey before, so obviously a practice turkey was in order. We pick up our bird, thawed it, fought over who was removing the gizzards & neck (I lost), and then brined that sucker. We used the brine recipe from Good Eats Roast Turkey. I mean really... at this point... doesn't everyone brine? If not then you should. If you dread the curse of dry turkey every Thanksgiving, then definitely brine your bird! You'll thank me. I promise.

After the turkey was done brining we rinsed it off & dried it, stuffed it with the aromatics, applied the coating of oil and then applied a light sprinkling of our own dry rub that Ted uses on almost everything he smokes. 6.5 hours later we had the most gorgeous turkey. A couple hours after that, when we finally had time to try it, we discovered we also had the most delicious & moist turkey. We could taste the brine, but not in an overwhelming way, just in a... "that was the perfect compliment to the turkey" way. We were thinking we would inject the turkey while it was cooking, but I'm actually glad we didn't. It absolutely didn't need it! Ted took most of the turkey to his work, where they brought sides & had an impromptu Thanksgiving of their own. He said people were inviting themselves to our Thanksgiving because they loved the turkey so much. So seriously... give it a try.

Ok, well this post has seriously gone on long enough. Yes I have more recipes to share with you - you're going to have to wait until tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Happy November!

This is my favorite time of the year. Thanksgiving is a mere 23 days away. This also reminds me that a couple of weeks ago (after a couple beers) I offered demanded that I make ALL of the pies for Thanksgiving this year. I also requested demanded that there not be any store bought pies sitting next to my homemade pies. I'm sorry but... I love baking, my pies are better then Marie Callender's, and last year I was a little peeved that I took the time to make sure everyone got some homemade pie love, and then someone just plops down some store bought pie like it's as awesome as mine. No. I'm putting my foot down! I think everyone gets to have at least one thing that they are completely irrational about, and I guess this is mine.