Monday, November 28, 2011

Monday Meal Planning

Morning my lovelies! My little people are eating carrots and ranch dip for breakfast. Weirdos. I'm drinking coffee and watching a Hallmark Christmas movie, starring the red head from Clueless, Amber. How many of these movies has she made? A million. She's made a million of them. 

This week starts the insanity of the season. My crockpot is gonna be working hard, people! Phew. 

Happy Monday!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Friends in love: A Maternity Shoot - Hannah & Rick

See these two love birds? I've known them for the past 8 years. I love them. I've loved them separately and I love them together. I'm so excited to meet their little "Bean"! Here are my favorite pictures from our shoot. I couldn't narrow them down...can you see why?!!! 

I can't wait to meet you sweet pea!
Auntie Erin.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving Timeline

Grab a cup of coffee or tea and a notepad. I'll wait. Or a glass of wine and a notepad. No judging. I'll wait. 

The first thing you need to do when planning out your thanksgiving timeline, is to decide when you want to eat. I prefer a later meal. The 1:30 Thanksgiving doesn't work for me. Naps get in the way ect. So we plan to eat around 4:00. It's my ideal time. I don't feel rushed and I don't feel the need to feed people a second dinner. Regardless of when you eat, just pick a time and stick to it. Here's what my Thanksgiving schedule for the next few days looks like:

Monday: (today!)
Make my shopping list. 

Go grocery shopping.

Buy flowers. 
Make Fresh Cranberry Relish (stick it in the fridge)
Make Delicious Creamy Mashed Potatoes (stick them in the fridge)
Make Salted Caramel Cheesecake Pie (stick the caramel and cheesecake SEPARATELY in the fridge)
Drink wine with husband in front of the fire

Wake up early. Not because I have to start cooking but because I have a 2 year old and a 4 year old. 
First: Drink coffee!!!
Second: Take the Turkey and butter out of the fridge.
Third: Drink more coffee. 
Fourth: Have a mimosa
Fifth: Take the mashed potatoes out of the fridge
Six: Make the breadcrumbs for the Brussels (keep them in a dish on the counter when done)
Seventh: Pour the caramel on top of the cheesecake, cover and return to fridge. 
Eight: Sit down and watch the Parade. (All this can be done in an hour or so.)

11:00 am - make the Sage butter
11:30 am - prep the Turkey and make the stuffing (set the stuffing aside in a buttered casserole dish)
12:00/12:30 pm - put Turkey in the oven (set two timers: one for every 20 minutes when you'll be basting, and one with the cooking time)
2:30 pm - Lattice bacon over the bird. 
3:00 pm - make the Brussels. 
3:15 pm - put the Stuffing in the oven
3:30ish - take the bird out of the oven and put the mashed potatoes in. Make the gravy. 
4:00 - Pour yourself a glass of wine and enjoy your awesome dinner!!

Phew. Did I forget anything? Look around at the people sitting with you and give thanks. And smile. You kicked ass!


Monday Meal Planning (Thanksgiving Week)

Monday! Thanksgiving is on Thursday. THURSDAY! But you're not worried because you've got your meal allllll planned out, right? Good. I promise I'll post the Thanksgiving timeline today. It was just too gorgeous here yesterday and we had to play in the leaves and run through the woods. And eat stew and watch A Christmas Story. Sorry. But it is Monday, and I do have a meal plan for your week! Easy, no-nonsense meals and some great leftover recipes for all that Turkey, potatoes ect. Get hungry.

Monday: Thai Curry Noodle Soup - it honestly does not get easier than this! No shrimp for us but add in some shredded, deli rotisserie chicken, and you're done!

Tuesday: Grown-up Mac and Cheese

Wednesday: Crockpot White Bean Chicken Chili

Thanksgiving, Our menu:
Maple-Roasted Turkey with Sage, Smoked Bacon and Cornbread Stuffing 
( side note, if you're making this recipe, I recommend putting a little bit of low-sodium chicken broth in the bottom the roasting pan, just to prevent burning from the maple syrup)
Delicious Creamy Mashed Potatoes
Fresh Cranberry Relish
Balsamic Braised Brussels with Pancetta
Salted Caramel Cheesecake Pie

Thanksgiving Leftovers: - Sure, Turkey Noodle Soup is great and all, but lets jazz our leftovers up a bit.
Mashed Potato and Stuffing Tacos
Turkey Pie
Turkey Enchiladas
Two Turkey Sandwiches

Happy Monday!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Thanksgiving Countdown: Sides (part 2)

Morning y'all. I don't usually post on Saturdays but we need to get this show on the road, so to speak.
Ok, so we have the Turkey and the stuffing. We have the appetizers and the desserts. The other day we talked about the first set of sides. Now lets finish with these. Choose from any, or all, of these awesome veggie side dishes, and you'll be DONE! That's it. WOOHOOO!! And yum.

Fresh Cranberry Relish
Trust in this relish. It's so insanely good. I smother my plate with it. I smother leftover, turkey terrific sandwiches, with it. It comes together in minutes and it can be made a day ahead of time. And even if you love the canned, jelly stuff, you might want to put this on the table too.

Sweet Chili Green Beans
These are not the green beans of Thanksgivings past. You might get the ole' side eye from your Crazy Uncle Pete, but make them anyway. Bacon, sweet chili sauce, ginger? I'm in.

Balsamic Braised Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta
I happen to love Brussels Sprouts. I mean really love them. Combine them with pancetta and balsamic and I just about fall off my chair. Perfection!

Whiskey Glazed Carrots
I don't love cooked carrots. Except for this recipe!! Ooohhh. They're like little discs of sweet, sweet love. I use bourbon, Jim Beam to be exact, because we're bourbon drinkers around here. So there. Make this!!!

We're done. That's a thanksgiving food wrap! I'll be putting together a cooking timeline and posting it tomorrow!

Happy Saturday!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thanksgiving Countdown: Sides (part 1)

Stay with me people. This mama is SICK. I know, I was sick before. But then I got a little better. But now I got a little worse. My head isn't in the game, I'm sorry. But I don't want any of you to start freaking out about not having any food to go with the rest of your awesome meal. Make one or two or however many, of these awesome potatoes, roots and squashes, and you'll be good to go. 

Delicious Creamy Mashed Potatoes from The Pioneer Woman 
I love these potatoes. It's another recipe that you make a day or two ahead of time and bake, just to warm them through, on Thanksgiving day. They really are dreamy. Plus, they hold a lot of gravy. I love me some gravy.

Scalloped Potatoes from Simply Recipes
To me, scalloped potatoes are more a Christmas dish, but this recipe has bacon and Gruyere. That can never be wrong. Ever.

Turnip Gratin from The Pioneer Woman
Trust me. Have I ever steered you wrong? Even if you think you don't like turnips, you really might. Especially with Gruyere making an appearance again. The beauty of this, is that it's mostly made on the stove top and then put into the oven for only about 20 minutes or so. You can finish it off while the turkey rests. TADA!

Savory Mashed Root Vegetables
Believe it or not, my children love this recipe. And it's another dish cooked entirely on the stove top. Hurray for freeing up oven space! 

Roasted Acorn Squash with Chile Vinaigrette
I thought instead of the basic butter/brown sugar squash, we should try something a little different. A little zippier. A little spicier. 

Last, but not least, this recipe is from my incredibly gorgeous, incredibly talented friend, Janine. She's also funny as hell. 

Whipped Sweet Potato & Banana Souffle

5 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed
4 bananas, unpeeled
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup honey
Kosher salt
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 1/2 cups pecans, chopped

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Prick the sweet potatoes all over with a fork, put them in a roasting pan and roast for 30 minutes. Toss the bananas into the pan and continue roasting for 10 to 15 minutes, until both the bananas and potatoes are very soft. Remove the pan from the oven but don't turn the oven off.

When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh into a large mixing bowl. Peel the bananas and add them to the bowl along with 1 stick of the butter, and the honey. Season with salt and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until everything is well combined and the mixture is fluffy. Spoon into an oven-proof serving bowl and smooth the top.

In a separate mixing bowl, use your fingers to rub together the remaining stick of butter, the brown sugar, flour, and pecans until the mixture is the consistency of coarse crumbs. Sprinkle the crumb mixture over the sweet potatoes and return to the oven. Cook for about 20 minutes, until the crumbs are golden. 

That's it! I'm making the mashed potatoes and the souffle. And maybe the acorn squash..saving the gratin for Christmas, or maybe not. And I'm having the root veggies for dinner. 

Happy Wednesday! Pass the Flonase. 

(forgive me if this post is all over the place. I think the meds have kicked in..zzzzzzzzzzz)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thanksgiving Countdown: Dessert

I realize I'm skipping over sides and going straight to dessert, but come on, it's more fun that way!!! Thanksgiving is next week. Did I scare you?? Sorry. Don't be scared. Just make one (or all) of these desserts and you'll be set. The best part? These can all be made ahead of time. Promise.

Pumpkin Dump Cake from Cookies and Cups. (see above pic)
This is yummy. Super yummy. And easy. I used pecan pieces and heath bar bits. You don't have to worry about pie crust, and it's awesome with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg. 

This recipe is best if the cheesecake and the caramel are made the day before. Brilliant! So make them both on Wednesday and marry them on Thanksgiving. Check!

This recipe has almonds (or almond flour) in the crust and brandy in the filling. Yes, please! 

That's it. Three awesome dessert recipes. All easily made a day (or even two) before the big day. Less stress, more thanks.

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Monday Meal Planning {quick and easy}

Morning. Monday. I was sick as a dog all weekend. SICK. Not moving, not speaking, just sitting there, sick. I'd love to say that I'm feeling 100% today, but no. Probably more like 65%.

This week, as I recover, I thought we'd cook yummy food that's even easier to make with a few shortcuts. Rotisserie chicken, store bought pizza dough, ham from the deli counter, ect. Of course if you're not recovering from the preschool plague, feel free to make the recipes as called for. Me, I'm taking the shortcuts.

Monday: Spicy Tomato Soup and Quick Ham and Swiss Breadsticks (use store bought pizza dough)

Tuesday: Classic Meatloaf and Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Wednesday: Meatloaf Patty Melt Panini (using leftovers from last nights meatloaf. Add a side salad)

Thursday: Zuppa di Gnocci e Pesto (quick this up by using a store bought rotisserie chicken)

Friday: Ham and Potatoes Au Gratin (ask for a few thick slices of ham at the deli counter)

Saturday: Steakhouse Mushroom Burgers with Creamed Spinach Sauce

Sunday: Simple Perfect Enchiladas

Happy Monday. Bring on the mucinex.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thanksgiving Countdown: Appetizers

Morning, Peeps! OK, so we've got the Turkey and the Stuffing down. Lets talk Apps. You really only need a couple things. I like to have one hot and one not. Plus a cheese and fruit platter. Easy.

These dates are outrageous. Even if you don't think you like dates, make them! Really easy and really delicious. Just take the dates and cheeses out of the fridge so they soften up and are easier to use. My bf turned me on to this recipe and I'm so happy she did. Yummy.

Cheese Stuffed Dates with Prosciutto 

For your hot app. Make baked brie. But instead of using a fruit jam, make this onion jam instead! Brush the pastry with an egg wash instead of sugar and bake according to the recipe. You might want to double the onion jam and use half in the brie and half in a bowl next to the cheese platter. Outrageous! Plus the jam on a leftover turkey sandwich? Yes. 

Just an FYI. I don't cook the cornbread stuffing IN the bird. It's always sort of worried me. Not to mention I think it dries out the bird a bit. So I cook it separate in a buttered baking dish. I stuff the turkey w/ onions, lemons and herbs and call it a day.

Phew. That's that. Appetizers done!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thanksgiving Countdown: Two weeks out

So did you realize that Thanksgiving was two weeks from today? Did you drop your cup of coffee when you realized that? Oh, good. I almost did but then thought to myself..."Self, you've got this! You've been making T-giving dinner for the past 8 years. No Big. Drink the coffee."

I will help you become zen with the art of Thanksgiving these next two weeks. Starting with the Turkey.
Just make this one. Trust. Maple Roasted Turkey with Sage, Smoked Bacon and Cornbread Stuffing.
It's the first turkey I ever made and the last turkey I ever made. It's so outrageous and easy and the gravy is perfection. So there you have it. Turkey - done!

Happy Thursday! Gobble Gobble.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Lunch: Mixed Herb Greens w/ Pomegranate Seeds

Let my start by apologizing. This is yet another post about Trader Joe's. I'm sorry people who have no TJ's. My heart truly goes out to you. And let me apologize for posting about this same dang salad dressing. I can't help it. I came up with a yummy little side salad this afternoon and I just can't keep it a secret!! So buy this dressing:

And then make this salad: Mixed Herb Greens, Pomegranate Seeds, Crumbled Gorgonzola, and Spicy Peanut Vinaigrette. Then drool and roll your eyes at how yummy it is. 

Those little jewels are heavenly. I heart them. If you have some roast chicken or something on hand, toss it in! I'm thinkin' this might be a great addition to a Thanksgiving table. Something a little different and unexpected next to the Turkey and Grandma's Stuffing. 

Happy Wednesday!
xoxo Erin 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Monday Meal Planning {after 6 days without power}

Yup. That's right. 6 days! I survived on coffee during the day and wine at night. For reals. I can still smell smoke from the constant fire, in my clothes. The girls noses were red and runny. My husband got a sinus infection. I look like I aged 10 years. The dishes piled up. The laundry. Oh good god, the LAUNDRY!!! I'll be doing laundry for weeks. BUT. There's always a but, right? We had fun, at times. Everyone around us gathered together and survived the week. Friends huddled together for warmth and sanity. The kids got used to not having a tv and I got used to running back and forth from the car to charge my phone and ipad. Laptops were charged at friend's houses that had generators and we went out to eat at the same diner three days in a row. We did crafts. We snuggled. A lot. We survived. Halloween was officially canceled but we got together and went out anyway. We ate pizza by candlelight. I can now see in the dark. I have night vision eyes! And now that the power is back, I cook. I cook and cook and cook and cook!!! And so can you! Let's eat well this week, shall we?

Monday: Asian-Style Beef Short Ribs (crockpot)

Tuesday: BBQ Beer Chicken (crockpot)

Wednesday: Turkey Cranberry Monte Cristo

Thursday: Spaghetti with Artichoke Hearts and Tomatoes

Friday: Vegetable Enchiladas

Saturday: Orange Ginger Flank Steak

Sunday: Creamy Chicken and Brie Soup

Happy Monday!