Giving Thanksgiving Its Due

Sunday, November 28, 2010

We love Thanksgiving! Food, football, family (the three fs, I guess)... but mainly food.



Four grocery store trips it took me to find this, the necessary ingredient for "Tony's Spinach," a Guinn family favorite (that has now also become a Jerkins family dinner staple).

My granny found this recipe in some post office employee pamphlet my grandaddy George brought home one holiday season forever ago. Seeing as I have no photo of the finished product, I'll share the recipe with the subsequent (and inevitably blurry) photos closer to Christmas.

The pepper jack Velveeta is crucial. Forgive the processed cheese for this special occasion.

Also made PW's Dinner Rolls, recipe here:



{The method is similar to her Cinnamon Rolls, and thus pretty easy to do.}



So delish, and worth the work.

Here's where things got a little crazy.

You know how I'm kinda weird? And sometimes like to make things harder than necessary? {Remember Pie Week '09?}

I'd committed to bringing a pie to Thanksgiving dinner, along with the rolls and the spinach.

Well, PW had posted her Pumpkin Cream Pie last week (during her pie week)...it looked like a fairly straightforward chilled pie, nothing complicated, with a graham cracker crust.

Hmmm. That seemed too easy.

"I wonder if there is a recipe out there for graham crackers?" I said to myself.

Turns out, there is! Knowing it would be wayyyyy easier to buy ready-made graham crackers (if not even a ready-made graham cracker crust), I nevertheless decided to give this a whirl.

Because if a homemade graham cracker crust was going to take the pumpkin cream pie to the next level, I sure as heck had to know.

Thank you, smitten kitchen.



They didn't have to be pretty since they were going to be ground to a pulp for the crust.



Here's my pie.



And here are some bullet points:

1. The graham cracker recipe may seem intimidating. Don't let it be so. It's a good one to work in while you're doing other cooking because there are rest periods after several of the steps.

2. The crust was DYNAMITE. I am totally serious. It KILLED in crust form. The taste was leagues better than any graham cracker crust I've eaten to date. Which leads me to...

3. The crust outshone the filling. Hear this: the filling was fine...pretty good, even. It just wasn't wonderful. And it needed to be great to keep up with all the incredible-ness going on in the crust.

I have frozen the remaining graham crackers and will put them to use during Christmastime for another, more robust pie filling. {Suggestions?}

Do you still think I'm crazy?

.......................................

Sad to throw away perfectly adorable mini-pumpkins:



But we're moving on to Christmas (!). And, in what I hope is a new Jerkins tradition, we already got our tree (feels early but it's nice!).



(you think that photo is artsy or just bad? I couldn't decide. either way, there's teeth-grinding going on.)


Happy week-after and official start to Christmas.

Stuff

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

[I'm a loser. I started this post on Monday morning. whoops.]

Over the weekend, I went to Garden Ridge in search of a cheap 8x10 area rug for our guest room. My grandma is staying with us this week, and I wanted her to have some cushion for her toes in the mornings.

(Amanda had directed me there after seeing YHL post about their trip to Garden Ridge. Smart.)

I like finding treasures at GR every now and again...but must admit that giving myself a pep talk is necessary before venturing in. Saturday's excursion was no exception. Christmas was in full swing, and people were everywhere.

During the trip, I overheard this comment between a boyfriend/girlfriend-y type couple regarding the following item:

"This would totally make a great conversation piece."




Yeah, it's a toilet paper roll holder. With a hat plunger.

Beyond disturbing.

However, I did find this 8x10 neutral rug for $60 though:



Nothing wrong with cheap + functional.

Saw two of the cutest babies ever on Sunday:



And we've got this whole leaf ocean thing going in our backyard:



TODAY may be the day to plant those violets sitting on the table that we bought 4 weeks ago, if it's not raining.

Allow me a soapbox-y comment before we close this randomness:

What in the WORLD is going on with the whole we're-open-on-Thanksgiving-Day thing?! It started predictably enough with Wal-Mart...then I see MICHAELS is open on Thanksgiving? Is nothing sacred anymore? As a former full-time retail employee, I entreat you LET THESE PEOPLE STAY AT HOME! They've got serious resting up to do before the madness of Black Friday, especially at the big-box stores of insanity. This is a disturbing trend that cannot end well.

Foodstuffs I'm preparing for Thanksgiving are pretty much set. Be back to share afterward (if successful).

Happy Thanksgiving!

Laundry : Officially Done

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

It's been officially done for at least six weeks now (maybe longer). Sorry I'm just now getting around to sharing with you.

Reminder of the before:



During: (more posts during the during here)





After:



We now have a pantry!

Laundry room in old storage closet at the back of our den, doorway to the left of the back door.





Thanks to Robbins Construction for taking care of business on this project. We DIY'd none of what you see. And let me tell you, I am FINE with that and very thankful!

You can run and tell THAT.

Pumpkin Turkey Pasta

Wednesday, November 10, 2010



My BFF pal Jesse loves Rachael Ray. Me...well, I am easing into it.

Rachael and I have had some glitches in the past. But we're working through it.

The glitches mostly occurred because a) I'm a dummy and b) I was under the impression that RR's "thing" was being all about easygoing/eyeballing stuff. So, I took her at her word {or really, the word on the street} and things did not work out [ie, I made substitutions I shouldn't have made].

Water under the bridge!
We're here now with this wonderful pasta, thanks to Rachael!

Jesse gave me the recipe a couple of years ago, and being a card-carrying pumpkin lover, I rushed to try it. pasta + pumpkin + sausage has to = goodness

Plus, most of these ingredients I already keep in my kitchen (added bonus).

This time around, I made some [healthier, hopefully] tweaks and got it more to my taste. You'll seeeeeeee.

This one's a pretty straightforward one-pot dish (with nutmeg in it! nutmeg can rarely be wrong, right?).

Substitution numero uno: switched to ground turkey.

Brown your turkey and set aside...



Then saute some onions and garlic in the pot you just used (after draining the fat and oil stuff out):



It was about this time I put water on to boil for the pasta. Instead of turning the correct burner on, I turned on the burner under my spoon rest/plate thing. Whoops. Luckily I heard it crackle under the heat before it broke.

whomp whomp


(cooling off since I just tried to kill her)

Okay, so by this time, you've added sage, white wine, and a bay leaf to the onions/garlic. Then it's time for the piece de resistance:



pumpkin!

After letting it cook and adding fat-free half and half (another substitution...heavy cream police, look away please!), and yes, I recognize this isn't pretty:



Then, my 2nd stupid mistake: misreading "1 pound" as "1 cup," subsequently cooking a very measly 1 cup of pasta.

I thought it looked puny for that big ole pot of sauce. Whoops #2.



Luckily I had the whole rest of the box at my disposal and all was well.

Combine, and voila!



Who knew, right?

Pumpkin Turkey Sausage

adapted from this one

Ingredients

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) (eyeballed this for sure)
1 pound ground turkey
4 cloves garlic (I use minced...sue me!)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 bay leaf, fresh or dried (dried, are you kidding me?)
2 T sage
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup fat free half-and-half
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
salt and black pepper
1 pound whole-wheat rotini, cooked al dente

Instructions

Heat a large, deep nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the turkey in 1 T (eyeballed) of EVOO. Transfer turkey to a paper towel-lined plate. Drain fat from skillet and return pan to the stove. Add the remaining tablespoon EVOO, followed by the garlic and onion. Sauté 3-5 minutes until the onions are tender.

Add bay leaf, sage and wine to the pan. Reduce wine by half, about 2 minutes. Add stock and pumpkin and stir to combine, stirring sauce until comes to a bubble. Return turkey to pan; reduce heat and stir in half-and-half. Season the sauce with the cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and pepper, to taste. Simmer mixture 5-10 minutes to thicken sauce.

Return drained pasta to the pot you cooked it in. Remove the bay leaf from sauce and combine the turkey pumpkin sauce with the pasta. Toss over low heat for 1 minute. Serve with Parmesan on top.

.......................................

Give it a try if you love pumpkin and pasta and turkey meat! [Lemme know how it goes, if you do!]

Over and out.

Thoughts & Thanks

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

1. Why can't hot chocolate have zero calories?

2. What is it about small cheddar crackers? My new obsession: Annie's Cheddar Bunnies. They're brilliant.

3. Greek yogurt is seriously good.

4. All of these thoughts have to do with food. Hmmm.

5. I've been going to spinning class....does that help?

6. BIG OLE THANKS to Lauren from Aspiring Kennedy for having me guest-post on her blog today (you like how I made up my own verb there?), writing about one of my favorite subjects:



That's right, Elvis standing at the gates of Graceland.

Just kidding--it's a post about Memphis! Jump on over and read if you'd like {Memphians, lemme know how I did}.

Thanks Lauren, for letting me show off our great little city!

Pumpkin Bread

Sunday, November 07, 2010

It's official. We've lit a fire in our wood-burning stove.



Since we moved into our house at the beginning of May, we haven't had much need for heat-producing sources yet.

UNTIL NOW!

This is my favorite time of the year, when fires are welcomed and scarves are more than an accessory. I LOVE daylight savings. Dark early? Awesome. Snuggling in is maybe one of the things I do best.

Since the weather is now (finally) starting to match the seasonal items in Walgreens, I made some pumpkin bread.

I found this recipe online the first or second year we were married. And let me tell ya, it's one worth keeping.



I will be hard-pressed to find another pumpkin bread that is as flavorful and moist as this one [but I won't be looking].

Make it with or without [mini] chocolate chips (and I never make it with nuts, but if that's your thing, go for it).



Makes 3 loaves...one for you, one to share, and one to freeze for later.

Pumpkin Bread
or, Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread
adapted from this one

Ingredients:

2 cups white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil (sometimes I do half oil half applesauce, depending on present guilt level)
1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree
2/3 cup water
4 eggs
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup mini chocolate chips (or a smidge more)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease & flour 3 loaf pans.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine sugar, pumpkin, oil, water, and eggs. Beat until smooth. Blend in flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. Stir in chocolate chips. Divide evenly between the loaf pans.
3. Bake for 1 hour, or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool on wire racks before removing from pans.



Don't let my lame photos deter you. LOOK NO FURTHER for your The Recipe and make this pumpkin bread.

I'm confident enough about this to say in parting, "you're welcome."

Halloween

Monday, November 01, 2010

Our first year in a house, in a neighborhood.



A black cat...of course.

Jonathan & I were more excited about trick-or-treaters than they were!



[blurry, I know]

That bowl was eventually emptied. We decided to tally how many trick-or-treaters we had on our new street...187! Sheesh!



I was Amy Winehouse twice, and recycled Peter Pan last night. Jonathan wore his hazmat suit last night [from Mike TV] with gold sunglasses, so I'm not sure what he was.

Happy November, mes amis!
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