Official Thanksgiving 2017 Menu

Happy Monday, friends! I may be a bit on the absent side this week – lots of shopping, cleaning, pie baking, and cooking to be done around here. I figured I’d at least pop in to share my finalized Thanksgiving menu, though (with links to recipes, when applicable) – and then if I get a few free minutes, I may just drop in with a few other little things. So, without further ado, here it is: our 2017 Thanksgiving Menu.

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Simple Roast Turkey (NY Times – I’ve used this dry-brine recipe every year I’ve hosted, and it’s by far the best turkey I’ve ever had)

Mashed Potatoes (I’ve never previously used a recipe, but I’m going to try this method from The Kitchn this year)

Turkey Gravy (No recipe here – I just work from what my mom taught me)

French Onion Zoodle Bake (Climbing Grier Mountain)

Macaroni & Cheese (No recipe here, either – I tend to combine about 5 different recipes to taste.)

Green Bean Casserole (I’ve used Smitten Kitchen’s recipe every year until now, but I saw Ree Drummond make her recipe on this kitchen this year, and, well…she uses bacon. And cheese.)

Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallows and Pecan Streusal (I’ve tried fancier sweet potato/squash dishes, but everyone prefers the good old sweet stuff – who am I to argue with tradition? I’ll be putting in a couple little spins to elevate things a bit, though – orange zest and fresh ginger, to start.)

Cranberry Sauce (No recipe – I just throw in whatever sounds good at the moment.)

Traditional Thanksgiving Stuffing (Stuffing’s difficult for me, because I don’t like it -*GASP* – and Jeff’s mom makes him his favorite stuffing each year. I always feel like I should make stuffing for everyone else though, because Jeff’s is a pretty specific recipe and it’s not for everyone…I’ve tried a few different recipes, but I figure I’ll just stick with this basic recipe from Averie Cooks this year. Can I say recipe again? Recipe.)

Rolls (Keeping it real – I usually use frozen parker house rolls and brush them with butter, herbs, and sea salt before serving. I’ve thought about making them from scratch, but…just, why?)

Brussels Sprouts with Chorizo and Sherry Vinegar (Serious Eats)

Silky Smooth Pumpkin Pie (Smitten Kitchen – this recipe is a bit more laborious than other pumpkin pie recipes, but it’s so good that it’s the only recipe I ever use.)

Chocolate Pudding Pie (Dinner a Love Story – I may or may not spread a layer of peanut butter over the crust before adding the pudding. Shhhh!)

And that’s it! Well, minus one additional pie that’s yet-to-be-determined-but-needs-to-be-decided-on-within-the-hour-because-that’s-when-I’m-leaving-to-do-my-grocery-haul. I’m thinking some kind of apple crisp/pie/cheesecake combo. Also, I feel I should mention that this menu is to feed FOUR PEOPLE. I repeat, this menu featuring a 16 pound turkey, 10 side dishes, and 3 pies will be feeding FOUR PEOPLE as of right now – my parents may make a hail-Mary drop in, but even then it’ll only bring the count to six. God help us.

Off to buy all the groceries – if we don’t speak, have a happy, cozy, and delicious Thanksgiving!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two Easy Autumn Breakfasts

When the weather turns crisp, I start craving warm spices and hearty meals. Although breakfast is pretty much my favorite meal of the day, I rarely have any desire to cook in the morning – I’m lucky in that my office has a full hot breakfast bar, but when left to my own devices, I’ll choose convenience almost 100% of the time.

For this reason, I tend to lean on oatmeal and yogurt all year round for breakfast (with the occasional egg thrown in here and there), but I like to mix things up when seasons change. While I love to add berries to my breakfast of choice during the warmer months, once the leaves start to turn I’m all about apple and cinnamon. Here are a couple easy, delicious options to get you going in the morning:

Apple Pie Oatmeal

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Ingredients

1/2 Cup apple cider

1 medium apple, cored and roughly chopped

2 tsp brown sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1 Cup rolled oats

1 1/2 Cups milk (I typically use 2%, but non-dairy will work just as well)

Pinch of salt

Handful of chopped glazed pecans (I like to use maple pecans, but walnuts would also be delish here)

Splash half & half, cream, or milk (optional)

Instructions

Combine the apple, cider, vanilla, cinnamon, brown sugar, and salt in a small pot over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the cider reduces by about half and apples are tender (about 5 minutes). Add the remaining ingredients (leaving half the nuts for garnish) and turn heat back up to medium-high. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes or until desired thickness has been reached. I like to serve this with a splash of half & half and remaining nuts…if you wanna get really wild, I highly doubt a splash of maple syrup would ruin things here.

Apple-Cinnamon Yogurt Parfait

Ingredients

1/2 Cup vanilla yogurt (I love Noosa for this, but any vanilla yogurt will work – use your favorite)

1 Medium apple, cored and chopped

1/4 Cup granola (I like Nature Valley here – it’s cinnamon-y and extra crunchy)

1 Tbsp Craisins or dried cherries

1 Tbsp walnuts

Dash cinnamon

This one’s really simple, guys – spoon yogurt into a dish and top with remaining ingredients. If you want to get fancy you can layer it (hence the “parfait”), but who are you trying to impress here?

Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte

I recently received a Nespresso CitiZ with Milk machine as a gift from work (hellooooo perks!!), so of course one of the first things I did was concoct a homemade pumpkin spice latte. It IS October, after all!

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I’ve tried store-bought pumpkin spice syrups before, but none of them ever quite cut it. I think the key to a real-tasting PSL is, well, real pumpkin. I’ve made pumpkin spice syrup before, both at home and for the cafe I used to work for, but it’s been a few years and it was time to give it another go. It came out pretty darn delicious, if I do say so myself – after some experimentation, I figured out that it’s key to use two shots of espresso (this is true for most latte-type drinks using an Nespresso machine, at least for me…I had been using one shot brewed on the larger “Lungo” setting, but I found that the drinks ended up a bit milky for my taste. Two shots on the smaller “Espresso” setting seems to hit the sweet spot.), and my secret weapon is to add a dash of vanilla extract to the milk before frothing.

Pumpkin Spice Syrup

1 1/2 cups water

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 TBSP pumpkin puree

5 cinnamon sticks

1 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp ginger

1/2 tsp cloves

generous dash black pepper

Heat water and sugar over medium heat. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved. Add remaining ingredients and simmer over medium heat for about 8 minutes, stirring frequently – don’t allow the mixture to boil. Strain into cheese cloth set over fine mesh strainer; store in tightly sealed container in refrigerator for up to a month.

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Pumpkin Spice Latte

1 TBSP pumpkin spice syrup (or to taste, depending on preferred level of sweetness)

2 shots espresso

8 oz milk

1 tsp vanilla

Pumpkin pie spice

Combine espresso and pumpkin spice syrup in mug. Add vanilla to milk; froth (if you don’t have a steam wand or aeroccino, you can froth milk using a small french press – just nuke the milk for 30 seconds or so and pump in the press until it reaches your desired level of frothy-ness). Top espresso with frothed milk and a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice. Enjoy!!

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The most wonderful time of the year

We’re back from vacation (more on that later!), it’s dreary and raining, and it feels like fall! I don’t even mind the rain – I pulled out a spicy candle and lit that sucker up, and I couldn’t be happier. Although I’m 100% certain we have several weeks of blisteringly hot weather left before autumn sets in for good, this week of fall-like weather we get at the end of summer every year has always been my point of no return. Bring on the apples, the pumpkin spice lattes, the scarves, and the cool breezes.

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