Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Last Minute Thanksgiving Ideas

Are you scrambling for last minute Thanksgiving ideas?  I've got something for you!  Here's a roundup of some easy, festive, and quick* dishes to bring to dinner tomorrow. 

*The salted caramel apple pie takes a little bit more time, but it's worth it
Whether you're sitting around a big table full of family and friends or if you're having a small meal tomorrow, have a happy Thanksgiving!  I'm thankful for each and every one of you that stops in to read my blog :)  Thank you!

Monday, November 25, 2013


I know I normally only give you cocktails on Thursdays and Fridays to get you prepped for the weekend, but this is a short week, so you can to start drinking earlier.
I'll admit that before this Crantini, I'd never actually had a martini.  I've still never had a straight martini. I don't know if I could deal with that quite honestly.  Not because of the straight liquor - it's the olives.  And besides that I'm happy with this version.  It's a very pretty pink color, it's festive, and it's still very much a strong cocktail.

Once your turkey's in the oven, the cheese platter is out on the table, the candles are lit, shake yourself one of these and pat yourself on the back.  You deserve to enjoy Thanksgiving too.
If you're the guest this year, bring the liquor, a shaker, toothpicks, and some fresh cranberries then pour your hostess a drink.  I bet you'll be invited back next year.  Just don't spill it on her couch cushions.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Sweet Potato Pie

One week from today is Thanksgiving.  Some people call Thanksgiving, "Turkey Day," but I think it should probably be called "Pie Day."  Who really cares about the turkey anyway?

Thanksgiving is all about the sides and the dessert.  I've never met anyone who says that their favorite part about the big dinner is the turkey.  I'm sure those people exist, I just don't associate with them.
I hope you're planning on doing your grocery shopping soon.  Have you ever tried to go to the grocery store the day before Thanksgiving or even worse, that morning?  Inevitably, we forget something and have to make the last minute trip.  Normally, it would take 5 minutes tops, but instead you are battling strangers for the best bag of cranberries and waiting in long lines to pay for your one forgotten item.

Just go through your list...twice.  Don't forget the sweet potatoes.  Don't forget the whipping cream.  Do that and you'll be golden.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Cranberry Pecan Pie

Thanksgiving is next Thursday!  I literally couldn't be more excited.  I am in pretty desperate need of a few days off spent at home with family (and my kitten).

Austin and I have been lucky enough to go home every year for Thanksgiving.  We are also lucky that our families live 5 miles away from each other and actually spend Thanksgiving together.  We don't have to choose sides.  We get to have our pie and eat it too.
Speaking of pie...  See what I did there?  Bear with me, it's only Tuesday, but it's already been a long week!  I have already told you and everyone else that I like pretty much all pie.  I like new versions of pie and I like the classics.  I like fruit pie, cream pie, custard pie, and pot pie.
Seeing as pecans are my favorite nut, I obviously hold a special place in my stomach...for it.  But on Thanksgiving, I save a lot of space in my stomach for pie, so there's always room for more.

The biggest complaint I hear about pecan pie (besides from people that "hate pecans") is that it's too sweet.  I hear ya.  I don't really get it, because I can eat anything as long as it has sugar on/in it, but I can put myself in your shoes.  The answer?  Cranberry pecan pie.  The tartness of the cranberries cuts the sweetness perfectly, but the pecans still give you all the nutty, rich flavor you want.  And, it's cranberries and pecans, what could be more festive than that?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Project 365: Week 46

November 11 | I read in a target catalogue that "popcorn is the trending snack of the year."  I didn't know there was such thing as a trending snack.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Every year, the "Christmas Season" starts a few days or a week earlier.  Pretty soon, we'll just listen to songs about decking the halls all year round.  People like to get their shopping done early and I get that.

I like getting people gifts and I like planning and thinking about what would be perfect for my family and Austin and his family, but then there are those other people that I don't know what to get.
Usually these people are coworkers, neighbors, hosts of Christmas parties, more distant relatives, maybe in-laws.  You get the point.  There are some people you need to get a gift, but you really don't know them all that well.  The answer?  Food!  Duh!

Homemade food is an especially good idea.  Homemade vanilla in cute little bottles is the best idea.  The only catch?  You need to start now, like this weekend.  It requires very little work on your part, but it does take about 6 weeks to sit.  So put it on your to-do list.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Cheddar Bread (Bread Machine Recipe)

You know how people say they are visual learners?  First of all, I feel like no one says they are anything but visual learners.  Second of all, what do you call someone who learns by smells?

I think I fall into that category.  I mean sure, I can read a textbook or go to a lecture and learn some stuff too, but if there is a strong smell in the room while I'm reading, I'm way more likely to retain it.
This means that when I walk down the street and pass a coffee shop with just a certain specific smell, I am transported back to Rosslyn, VA where I would sit in Starbucks on my lunch breaks and read.  Or when I smell something baking through a window, I can remember the exact feel of walking down the cobblestone streets of Heidelberg, Germany after being berated by my German professor for a 2 hour seminar where I only understand half of the insults that were being thrown around.

Austin does not appreciate my "learning style."  He just thinks it involves too much "sniffing around."  Literally.

Some memories that get stirred up are bad memories, and some are good.  And some are mixed.  Every single time I smell the yeasty aroma of bread rising in my kitchen, I remember being very, very unhappy and homesick while unpacking boxes and filling the shelves of our new, shiny, DC apartment.  I got to one box that said "KITCHEN" which my mom and dad had helped pack.  When I opened it up, their barely used breadmaker was sitting there staring up at me.  It was one of those happy/sad moments but it did make me feel not quite so far away.  For the rest of my life, when I make bread, I'll remember that box, that kitchen, and that happy/sad feeling.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Swiss Chard with a Shallot Cream Sauce

Ever since daylight savings time kicked in (turned off?) on Sunday morning at 2:00 a.m., I have been all out of sorts.  First of all, I've been sneezing like crazy - don't know how that could be related, but it's happening.  Also, I have not been able to get up in the mornings to go to the gym and get swole even though it should be easier now.  I've also wanted to eat dinner around 4:00 in the afternoon.
None of these things really make sense if you get to thinking about it, but just like daylight savings time, it's best not to think too hard about it.

It's also best not to engage in long, pointless debates with your sister about the merits/downfalls of DST.  It goes nowhere.  No one wins.  It's just a lot of wasted breath.

Anyway, the upside to me wanting to get the Earlybird Special as if I'm an 85 year old is that there is still daylight and I can take pictures of the food that I cook.  The downside: that I need a second dinner at 9:00.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Chocolate Chocolate Cupcakes

Over the weekend, Austin and I drove down to Great Sand Dunes National Park.  Usually, we pack lots of snacks.  Usually, we plan at least a little bit.  Not this time though.  This time, we had no idea where we were going to stay the night.  We looked up directions on our way.  We had no snacks in the car.

It's fun to be spontaneous, but it's also fun to have a tupperware full of cupcakes in the car.

We ended up stopping at Cracker Barrel and eating way too much food.  After we were done eating until we were sick, we contemplated a piece of their chocolate coca-cola cake.  We passed this time.  Sometimes, even though you know it won't be that good, you just need some chocolate.  In those cases, even if it's kind of dry, it will still do the trick.
Must not have been one of those days when we were at the Cracker Barrel, but if you're going to make these cupcakes, you better be in the mood for some chocolate!  These are very chocolatey.  Not just because it's a chocolate cake topped with chocolate icing, but also because they're rich.

Sometimes cakes/cupcakes claim to be "chocolate fudge" - well these really are.  But I think we've all known at least one person in our lives who has used the term 'chocoholic' to describe themselves.  Earmark these for their birthday and if you're not so into chocolate, try topping the cupcakes with buttercream or cream cheese frosting.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

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