Thanksgiving recap and some food prep

Hi there!

How was your Thanksgiving?

Ours was pretty good! I took a little bit of time off of everything – blogging, working out, showering…..

Hey, if I wasn’t sweaty, why would I need to shower?

Okay, seriously, I’m kidding. Sheesh! I showered. I promise.

We headed up to my folks’ house for Thanksgiving.

Halfway there, I realized I left the butternut squash at home. #sidedishfail

But, it worked out okay because 1. less butternut squash I have to share, 2. I remembered the brownies, and 3. we had PUH-Lenty of food!

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And wine, of course. 🙂

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Most of it was catered but there was reheating, etc to do. Took a MAJOR load of stress of my mom’s shoulders.

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And I was pretty thankful about that, too, because my sailor and I usually end up in charge of the turkey (we grill it) and it was raining and miserable. I love me some grilling but grilling outside in the cold rain is about as much fun as waxing the bikini line. Right? Right.

Everything was really, really good!

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My sister was in charge of the pumpkin pies and she totally made me a gluten-free (minus the crust) pumpkin pie!

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swoon!

I was totally not expecting it and was weighing my pumpkin pie options (do I just eat the pumpkin and leave the crust, take my chances with the gluten-y crust, or skip it altogether and just eat a brownie?) when she pulled it out of her bag of tricks. 🙂

We headed back home on Friday (Black Friday shopping? no thank you.) and proceeded to sit on our butts all weekend.

Okay, not really.

We ran errands on Saturday and we hit up some antique/consignment stores and found the most amazing chairs for our dining room table!

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We bought the table from Ikea back in 2001 and still had the original chairs we bought with the table.

13 years and 7 moves later, those chairs were DONE. One actually broke a couple of weeks ago. While someone was sitting in it. Thankfully, the chair took the brunt of the damage.

We also bought a new Christmas tree!

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The tree we’ve replaced was almost 20 years old and had been through WAY more than 7 moves. It was falling apart and starting to look a little like Charlie Brown’s tree.

Charlie Brown tree

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It was definitely time to upgrade. This one is pre-lit! No more ring around the rosie trying to string lights! #winning

I also did a little bit of food prep.

I made some of Lindsay’s Quinoa Breakfast Bars for grab ‘n go breakfasts/snacks (edited the recipe to make it gluten free). They’re all individually bagged and ready for snacking.

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 If you have not made these yet, you are totally missing out. Super easy and super delicious!

 I threw together a pot of Smoky Beef and Black Bean Chili for lunches this week.

 Stay tuned for the recipe tomorrow!

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steamy!

 

 And, finally, I tried a Pinterest recipe for Ginger Chicken Stir-fry and it turned out fabulously!

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We have leftovers so that adds at least 2 more lunches or quick dinners this week. Whoop!

I also roasted up my accidentally left-behind butternut squash. 🙂

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Talk to me: Did you shop on Black Friday? How long were you out and what time did you wake up to go?

– jennifer

Wine Wednesday – Thanksgiving wine recommendations

Hello, hello!

Happy Wine Wednesday before Thanksgiving Thursday!

The weather outside is most definitely frightful and, if you’re traveling today, please be careful. I’m sure your family/friends would enjoy giving thanks for your safe arrival. If you’re traveling tomorrow, the same story holds. 🙂

So, let’s talk wine.

I mean, it IS Wine Wednesday, after all!

cheers!

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Do you have a plan for what wine you’re pouring with tomorrow’s meal?

If you do – Excellent! What are you pouring?

If you don’t, and you’re in charge of the wine, you’re in luck. I’m here to help!

Oh, and if you’re not in charge of wine this time around but are for Christmas, these tips will work for that meal, as well. 🙂

The first thing you need to figure out is how much wine to have on hand.

Generally, a standard bottle will yield about 4-6 glasses of wine, depending on who does the pouring. If it’s my dad, we’re looking at 4 glasses. 🙂

So, for math purposes, we’ll go with 5.

Plan for about 2 glasses per person (some will drink none and some will most definitely drink more) but 2 is a good average.

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Then, you have to figure out how many people will be there.

Adults, not children. Please don’t give the children any wine.

We’re going to have 15 at my folks’ house but out of those 15, 6 are below the age of 21. So, we’ll have 9 wine drinkers.

So, 9 wine drinkers plus 2 glasses each equals 18 glasses of wine. Divide that by how many glasses you can get out of a bottle – (remember from up there?) – 5 and we’re looking at about 4 bottles of wine for the meal.

Now, you can mix it up and offer both white and red, if you want. You’ll still want to stick to those estimated calculations. If you know that people will drink more because they aren’t driving, then you can plan for that.

Whatever you plan for pre-dinner drinks is completely up to you and if it’s more wine, you’ll have to account for that in your wine bottle total.

Ooohh, you know what’s handy?

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Wine charms! If you have quite a few people drinking wine, it’s very common for someone to put down their glass and walk away for a minute only to come back and discover that it’s gone. With wine charms, everyone basically calls dibs on their own glass with a little charm! They wrap around the glass stem, aren’t very expensive, and can be found in most wine markets and places like World Market, Bed, Bath, and Beyond, and, who knows, probably even Target! (*note – if the store sells wine glasses, it probably sells wine charms)

And now it’s time for the good stuff!

What to drink!!

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If you’re doing the traditional Thanksgiving meal with turkey or ham, there are a variety of wines that pair with both (and all the side dishes) quite nicely.

Let’s start with white wines, shall we?

Rieslings, Gewurztraminers, and Chardonnays are all excellent choices.

They’re all light and fruity without being overly sweet. Gewürztraminers bring a little bit of spiciness to the table and pair excellently with both pecan and pumpkin pie. When looking for a Chardonnay, you want to look for something “unoaked” or stainless barreled. Some oaky Chardonnays can be intensely buttery and might overwhelm your meal. The lighter, unoaked are both crisp and full-bodied and delicious.

Some of my favorite Rieslings include Fetzer, Chateau Ste. Michelle, and J. Lohr.

Favorite Gewürztraminers include Fetzer (again). I haven’t tried too many others so that’s all I got.

And Chardonnays include Kunde, Mer Soleil ($$), Fess Parker, and Josh Cellars.

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For red wines, traditional choices are Beaujolais and Pinot Noir. You could also go with a Malbec or a Zinfandel. If you decide to buy a couple bottles of different kinds, serve the Beaujolais and Pinot Noirs BEFORE the Malbecs and Zinfandels.

Beaujolais and Pinot Noir are both light and fruity with a little bit of earthiness. Malbecs are a more lush, medium-bodied wine and Zinfandels are powerful and fruity and full of depth.

If your Thanksgiving crowd are wine lovers, you could definitely throw the Malbecs and the Zinfandels into the mix without worry but if you have wine novices or people who prefer a “lighter” wine, then you should definitely stick with the Beaujolais or Pinot Noir.

I don’t have a favorite Beaujolais as I normally grab a Pinot Noir. Some favorite Pinot Noirs include Rubeus of Lore, Edna Valley, and Decoy.

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Favorite Malbecs include Middle Sister (SO GOOD!!), Acacia, or most Meritages (includes the Malbec grape).

Favorite Zinfandels include Four Vines, Seghisio ($$), and Rancho Zabaco.

So there you have it! You’re all set. Well, as far as the wine goes. I can’t help you with the cooking part. 🙂

Talk to me: Pumpkin or Pecan pie?

– jennifer

A weekend of surprises & some seriously amazing cake

Hello!

Happy Monday!

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How was your Thanksgiving holiday?

Did you eat too much?  Did you score any amazing deals on Black Friday?

What about today – are you a Cyber Monday kind of person?

My weekend was full of surprises!

Thing 2 and I were getting ready to head out on Friday – yes, I know I don’t DO Black Friday but my fuzzy crew needed food.

Clearly, I need to work on my planning because I totally could have made sure we had enough pet food before the holiday hit.

Anyway, we were getting ready to go – okay, I was getting ready to go…Thing 2 suddenly wanted to “wait about 30 minutes.”

What the heck?

Weird.

And then ….

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Thing 1 was there!!!

Pretty awesome surprise, if you ask me. 🙂

So, we hung out for a bit, went to lunch, did a few errands (I actually braved the Wal-Mart! Crazy, I know!), and chatted and watched tv.

Perfect.

Then, on Saturday, Thing 2 and I made a surprise trip to see MY folks and my grandmother!

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I even baked a Double-Chocolate Bundt Cake with Ganache Glaze to take with me!

My grandmother LOVES chocolate. And, I love my grandmother so….

The best part of the surprise was the fact that my mother called me while we were 5 minutes away from their house.

She wanted a picture of Thing 2 for her frame she was taking to work.

Hahahaha!

Okay, I think we can handle that!

5 minutes later, Thing 2 is knocking on her front door!

It was pretty spectacular.

I love that we were able to do that. 🙂

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So, let’s talk about that cake. 🙂

Like I said, my grandmother loves chocolate and when I saw this cake recipe from Food and Wine, I knew I had to surprise her with it.

Bundt cakes can often be heavy and overwhelming but this one was light, moist, and decadent without being overpowering.

In fact, it was pretty amazing.

Om nom nom!

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Double-Chocolate Bundt Cake with Ganache Glaze
makes 10-12 servings (depending on how big you make the slices)

5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup canola oil
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 tablespoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup strong-brewed coffee (I used Italian Roast)
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 tablespoon corn syrup
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 12-cup Bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray. In a small saucepan, melt 2 ounces of the chopped chocolate over low heat, stirring constantly. Scrape the chocolate into a medium bowl and let cool slightly. Whisk in the oil and sugar until smooth, then whisk in the egg.

2. In a small bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Add half the dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture along with 1/2 cup of the coffee and 1/2 cup of the buttermilk, whisk until smooth. Add the remaining dry ingredients, coffee, and buttermilk and whisk until smooth.

3. Pour the batter into the Bundt pan and bake in the lower 1/3 of the oven for about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. (Mine took 42 minutes so, depending on how hot your oven gets, I would start checking at 40 minutes. You don’t want an overdone cake!) Let the cake cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then turn it out and let it cool completely.

4. In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil. In a heatproof bowl, combine the remaining 3 ounces of chopped chocolate with the corn syrup and butter. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let stand until melted, about 5 minutes. Whisk until smooth. Let the ganache glaze cool until thick but still pourable, about 5 minutes.

5. Pour the ganache over the cooled cake. Let the cake stand until the glaze is set, at least 30 minutes before serving.

6. Share with family and friends!

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Question: When do you put your Christmas tree up? Are you an “immediately after Thanksgiving” person or do you wait a little longer?

We normally wait – mostly because I get frustrated with the mess it makes – but we came home yesterday to a surprise! My sailor had dug the tree out of our packed with boxes garage and put it up! Honestly, I’m really glad he did that. It looks awesome where he put it and I’m happy it’s up. 🙂

– jennifer