November 20, 2010

My Thanksgiving Menu

My in-laws are flying in from Miami to spend Thanksgiving with us. As I mentioned in a previous post, last year was my first year hosting Thanksgiving. Now that I've got a year of experience under my belt I'm feeling pretty confident about it....at least, I should be! :) My best friend helped every step of the way so without her I may feel a little lost. I'm counting on the hubby to help prep dishes the day before.

Our menu is pretty similar to the one from last year. I've already shared the sweet potato dish and the turkey. Here is our menu:

Main Course/Side Dishes:
Roasted Turkey with Cranberry Glaze
Maple Pecan Sweet Potatoes
Apple and Onion Stuffing
Maple Glazed Carrots
Buttered Up Corn on the Cob
Assorted Dinner Rolls

Desserts:
Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake
Cranberry Bliss Bars

Drinks:
Red/White Wine
Apple Cider

The sweet potatoes and desserts will be made ahead of time on Tuesday and Wednesday. The rest will be made on Thanksgiving day. The stuffing and sweet potatoes will go into the oven after the turkey is done and cooling. The veggies are both pretty simple and quick to make. My only concern is the turkey, I hope it will be just as good as last year!

Today and tomorrow I'll be prepping the house for our family. The turkey will be purchased on Monday to give it time to defrost safely in the fridge. I'm ready for the holidays to begin!

What's on your Thanksgiving menu? Are you feeling ready for the day? Have you done all your shopping?

November 14, 2010

Maple-Pecan Sweet Potatoes

Last year was my first time hosting Thanksgiving. It was my first turkey, my first sweet potato casserole, and my first pumpkin cheesecake. Our best friends from Miami flew up to spend the holiday with us. My best friend and I cooked up the best Thanksgiving dinner we've ever had. We spun around in the kitchen together, washing pots and pans, stirring this and mixing that. We jumped for joy when the turkey came out beautifully browned and as the meat fell off the bones. We made this sweet potato dish the day before and popped it into the oven after the turkey came out. When it was time to eat, we inhaled it. For days and then months after Thanksgiving we would call each other and say, "Remember those sweet potatoes!!" They.are.heavenly.

I swear this is THE BEST sweet potato dish you will ever have. And I'm SO excited to make it again, even though my best friend will not be here this year. I'll Fed-Ex you some love. ;p


  • 2 3/4  pounds sweet potatoes
  • 1/4  cup half-and-half
  • 3  tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3  tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1  teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4  teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4  teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8  teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1  large egg, lightly beaten
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2  cup mini-marshmallows
  • 2  tablespoons chopped pecans
1. Preheat oven to 400°.
2. Pierce potatoes several times with a fork; place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake at 400° for 1 hour or until tender. Cool slightly; peel and mash in a large bowl.
3. Reduce oven temperature to 350°.
4. Stir half-and-half and the next 8 ingredients (through egg) into sweet potatoes. Spoon mixture into a 2-quart baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes. Sprinkle the top with mini-marshmallows and chopped pecans; bake 12 minutes or until the mini-marshmallows are slightly melted. Serve immediately.

Menu Plan Monday

I'm taking it easy this week in preparation for Thanksgiving. With my head whirling with all the things left to do, I don't think I'm going to want to make anything complicated this week! And the hubby's birthday is next week! I need to find a scrumptious cake to make!

I've broken down my grocery shopping into three trips:

1. Desserts
2. Sides
3. Perishables & The Turkey.

All dessert components have been purchased as well as half the stuff for the sides. I'll be sharing my recipes for everything soon.

Here's the menu for the week. I picked up a rotisserie chicken from the store today to use throughout the week for dinners and lunches. Such a great time saver.



It's finally starting to get cold. I think we'll be having lots of hot chocolate. ;)

How are your Thanksgiving plans coming along? If you're not hosting, are you bringing something to a family dinner or potluck?

    November 13, 2010

    Cranberry White Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

    I know it's not time to be thinking about Christmas. We still have two weeks to go before Thanksgiving. But I've already finalized my Thanksgiving menu and have no need to test out any recipes. I'll be serving most of the same dishes from last year, with a few changes. I had a free Saturday morning, which is when I usually bake something for the week. So, I decided to try out a cookie recipe for Christmas! 


    • 3/4 c. butter, softened
    • 2/3 c. packed dark brown sugar
    • a little more than 1 1/2 c. oatmeal
    • 1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 2/3 c. dried cranberries
    • 2/3 c. white chocolate chips
    1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment.
    2. In bowl of stand mixer, combine butter and brown sugar and beat on medium high until light and fluffy in texture and color, about 3 minutes, while you gather other ingredients.
    3. In large bowl, combine oatmeal, flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt, stirring to combine.
    4. To butter and sugar add eggs, one at a time, beating to combine well after each addition, then add vanilla.
    5. Stop mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl and turn back on lowest setting.
    6. Add oatmeal mixture, then cranberries and white chocolate, beating just until barely combined. Remove bowl from stand mixer and bring over to baking sheets. Best way to do this is with your fingers (albeit messy) 7. Pick up loose balls of dough about 2 to 2.5 inches in diameter and place onto baking sheets at least 2 inches apart (I place 11 cookies on each sheet, dividing dough into 22 cookies total). If you have leftover cranberries and white chocolate chips, top cookies with a couple of each.
    8. Place in preheated oven and bake for exactly 10 minutes.
    9. Remove from oven, cookies will be slightly golden around edges and middles look a bit underdone.
    10. Let cool 5 minutes on cookies sheets and then place on wire racks to cool completely before serving.


    It looks like a lot of steps but it's actually pretty easy. And they are sooo good, I've already had four. :)

    November 9, 2010

    It's Like Christmas

    Yesterday I came home to find this in my mailbox.


    I was SO excited. I've been waiting for it to come for what feels like eons. Her magazine has got to be my all-time, and I don't even know why. I pour over the pages lovingly. I look for the longest checkout lane in the grocery store just so I can look through it. And now I have a subscription to it!

    SO EXCITED.

    Can you believe just a year ago I despised her recipes? The ingredient list was just too long. They never took me 30 minutes and I wasn't a fan of her quirkiness. Until I discovered her daytime talk show while I was unemployed with nothing to do. I started to look forward to her show everyday. I felt like I had made a friend during a rough, lonely time. Now I adore her.

    I stayed up late last night reading it. Until my husband found me with the light on. He has deemed me insane, but this is not as surprise. We both know I am.

    Look out for some of her recipes!! I've marked a ton. :)

    November 7, 2010

    Menu Plan Monday

    This week's menu plan has a bit more of a variety. We are huge pasta eaters (or, rather, I am) and have pasta waaaay too often. I'd like to limit the number of pasta dishes we have per week. This is not going to be an easy task for me... but there is only one pasta dish on the menu this week!



    My problem is coming up with sides. I rotate rice, pasta, quinoa, and potatoes along with a vegetable. Pasta is by far my favorite. What are some of your favorite sides?

    November 6, 2010

    A Shoutout to Santa Claus

    This wasn't supposed to turn into a Christmas post. I wanted to post my recent bookmarks and then I realized, I only had two new ones to share...


    Yes. I know.



    Another contender for Thanksgiving?


    The reason behind the lack of food related bookmarks?

    It's November. And that means everyone is already starting to ask, "What do you want for Christmas?" So I have begun my search...

    Have you started yours yet, or am I just crazy?

    Here are some things I want this year.









    I don't have any of her cookbooks. I really really want this one.



    This is not going to happen. We don't have space for it. It's really expensive. But I want it anyway, Santa.



    Please share any recipes you've bookmarked lately. I'm slacking and would like some new ones!

    November 1, 2010

    Menu Plan Monday

    There's a new recipe on the menu this week. I watched Rachael Ray make this Lazy Florentine Lasagna the other day and it looked pretty good and easy. I've been looking for some new dinner ideas, seeing as all I ever do it bookmark sweets and desserts. Have you tried anything new lately?

    I'm so excited that today is the first day of November! Thanksgiving, here I come...I've already planned out the menu!




    What's on your menu plan this week?