Thanksgiving Prep

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I enjoy cooking and trying new recipes.  Recently I discovered a new website (well new to me, at least), Primavera Kitchen, which has lots of healthy recipes.  Since I’m trying to cut down on carbs, I decided to give the Roasted Butternut Squash Mash at try.  The recipe was easy to follow, and while the squash was cooking in the oven, I was able to prep and complete other dishes.

1121181411_HDR~2Here is the squash cleaned, seasoned with salt, pepper, and minced garlic, and ready to pop into the oven for about 40 minutes.

Now on to other dishes – homemade cranberry sauce is a must in my house.  I just follow the basic recipe on the bag – with a few tweaks.  I replace half the sugar with raw honey, and add a dash of ground cloves.   1121181428_HDR~2

Once the berries are fully cooked, just remove from the heat and add the zest and juice of one orange.  I love using my vintage glass juicer; for some reason it just makes me happy.  1121181436_HDR~2

Spoon the finished sauce into a serving dish, let cool, and then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.1121181447_HDR~2 Of course, if you’re like me you probably can’t wait to enjoy this yummy side dish, and sneak a little advance taste. Definitely one of the perks of being the cook!

1121181451_HDR~2While the cranberries were cooking, I used the time to chop the veggies for the dressing.  Originally, I was going to to skip the dressing, but decided to won’t be Thanksgiving without this traditional dish.

 

1121181535a_HDR~2My husband loves celery, so I always add extra along with the onion and some carrots for extra crunch and color.  Plus they’re good for you!  I like moist dressing, so I use about twice the amount of liquid (using the recipe on the package as a guideline) and one beaten egg to hold it all together.  Once it’s all mixed together, just pop it into a covered casserole, refrigerate and you have one more dish ready for your Thanksgiving feast!

1121181452a_HDR~3While I was making the cranberry sauce and the dressing, the squash continued to cook.  Once it was fork tender, I simply removed it from the oven and let it cool while finishing the dressing.  It came out slightly browned and the roasted garlic smelled heavenly.

Once the cooked squash is cool enough to handle, scooped out from the shell into a bowl or pot for mashing.

1121181545a_HDR~3I mostly followed the recipe, but omitted the ghee as my husband doesn’t care for butter on his vegetables and after tasting, I didn’t think that this yummy dish really needed the butter.  You can use a regular or hand-held mixer to mash the squash.  Or, go old school and use a potato masher.  The one I have is over 60 years old and used to belong to my mother.  It has seen a lot of action through the years and still works great!  🙂

 

1121181553_HDR~4My mashed squash it in a serving dish, and tomorrow all I need to do is heat it up a bit in the microwave.

I’ve certainly gotten a good head start on the cooking for tomorrow.  All that’s left to do is to clean and prep the turkey for cooking and get my vegetables ready.  I’m going to put fresh herbs (rosemary, sage, & thyme) in the bird’s cavity and  I plan on using Primavera Kitchen’s recipe for roasted Brussel Sprouts, adding carrots and parsnips, too.

 

Hope you have a wonderful and delicious Thanksgiving!  I know that I am thankful to Olivia of Primavera Kitchen for sharing her recipes with us.

Enjoy, Mary

 

 

 

 

 

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Crochet Flag: Putting It All Together

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Today we will turn this pile of crochet parts – –

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Into this finished hanging – –

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Previously, in creating our Crochet Flag Hanging, we did this Flying the Flag and then we did this A Stick and Some Stripes. Now we get to combine all of of our bits and pieces into this final, finished project.  Your project won’t look exactly like mine, and that is a good thing because is is yours!!

Step One (Optional):  Have your project pieces approved by your fur baby.

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Shadow testing my work and giving her approval.

Step Two:  Lay out the pieces for assembly (Note:  the arrangement is actually face down).  The short stripes start and end with red along the edge of the blue Union field.

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The ends are not yet woven in as they are needed in the next step.

Step Three:  Working from the backside, sew your stripes onto the blue Union.  I only wove in one end, and kept the other end for this purpose.

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I worked from the edges of the Union towards the center to ensure semi-even spacing.  No measuring tools were used in this easy project.

Step Four:  To attach the long stripes to the flag, you will need a support piece (sorry, forgot to mention this earlier).  You may use a length of ribbon, or as I did, crochet a strip of foundation half-double crochet (fhdc).

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I attached with a slip stitches (ss), putting a chain between the ss for flexibility.

Step Five: After attaching the Union, continue with the stripes, beginning with white and alternating with red.

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Almost finished!

Step Six:  This is optional, but I decided to sew the first long white stripe to the Union for additional stability.

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First long white stripe attached part of the way down the Union

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Reversed, but looking good!

 

Step Seven:  Attach your completed flag to its hanger.

mod-podge.jpg What you do will vary.  You can sew your flag onto a stick or rod, use nails or clips, or as I did, some strong glue.  I chose to use Outdoor Mod Podge because there was some on-hand (no need to go and purchase any supplies – YES!!).  Make sure you are applying any adhesive to the FRONT side of your flag along the top vertical ribbon and don’t be stingy with the glue.  Your hanging stick will be on top of the flag.  Please make sure that the blue Union is to the LEFT.

Glued to Stick

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Step Eight:  If using a liquid adhesive, be sure to check dry times.  I allowed about 24 hours to be on the save side.  Turn flag to right side, Union will be on the left and attach string or other hanging device as needed.  I used twine, from a dollar store, that was left over from a prior project.

 

Step Nine:   Your flag is now ready for display.

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Ready for display!

 

Step Ten:  Take some pics and share your talents and patriotism with others!  Have a safe and happy 4th of July!

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My Sweet Tooth

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Sometimes I try to ignore my cravings for something sweet, especially if it is baked and chocolate flavored!  Over the weekend my cravings for got the better of me so I pulled out my Fat Witch Brownies cookbook and it fell open to page 67.  I’ve never made this recipe before, so maybe it was meant to be, or maybe it was the “witch.”  Ha!Ha!

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Page 66 & 67 of Fat Witch Brownies cookbook

The “Intense Chocolate Brownies” were as the name implies, intense with the flavor of chocolate!  Of course they can’t be bad for you because the recipe uses unsalted butter, unbleached flour (please don’t buy bleached flour – it really is not good for you), 70%  cacao bittersweet chocolate, just the right amount of sugar.  Since these brownies are homemade they contain no preservatives or artificial ingredients, just lots of love.

Now, I didn’t have bittersweet chocolate on hand, but I did have some organic cocoa (purchased from Thrive Market) so with a little on-line research on making substitutions, I was ready to bake!  It really doesn’t take long to make brownies from scratch, and the recipes from Fat Witch are pretty straight forward and uncomplicated (unlike others I have tried).  Best of all I didn’t have to use my mixer, so clean-up was easier!

Even though I didn’t follow the recipe exactly – using cocoa powder and half whole wheat and half unbleached flour – the end result was delicious!  The brownies were moist, with a rich chocolate flavor and just slightly crumbly.  Since there are only two humans in my household, and I’m the big brownie eater, I am still enjoying these treats.  Being the caring parent of two cats, I don’t let them eat chocolate even when they start begging for a taste!

If you have any leftovers after making some, just make sure to store in an air tight container.

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Finished product – Cooling and waiting to be devoured!

I’ve never been disappointed with any of the recipes that I’ve made from my Fat Witch Brownies cookbook.  As a tea lover, I even tried the Earl Grey Brownies, which were delightfully different.

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Fat Witch Brownies by Patricia Helding

Hope you will try your hand at making homemade treats.  If you like chocolate, Fat Witch has some free recipes available on their website, or if you live in New York City, you can stop by the shop and buy some freshly made goodies.

Happy baking & eating 🙂

Season’s Greetings

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Hope everyone had a joyful and blessed holiday. We were fortunate enough to be able to spend the day with family. Our day was filled with the laughter of young and old, good conversation, and delicious food. Of course, I ate too much. Started out with good intentions and small servings, but went back for more of my favorites.

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Shadow “hanging” out in our Christmas tree. One of her favorite places.

Our Christmas dinner was a pot luck with the hosts providing a glorious prime rib, mashed potatoes, gravy and au jus. Contributed sides included a twist on the classic green bean casserole – prepared in a crocked pot, maple glazed carrots with dill, and baked beans with bacon.

A holiday feast is not complete without dessert – – we had two of my favorites – – apple crumb pie and sweet potato pie. How could I possibly choose just one!  Had to have some of each.

After dinner, we unwrapped gifts while sitting around the fire. Because our family has grown so large, adults pick names at Thanksgiving for a Secret Santa exchange.  I brought “goodie bags” for everyone filled with Salty Chocolate Chip cookies (with coconut and caramel bits added to make them EXTRA yummy), Fig Walnut balls, and Coconut Chocolate Haystacks.

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Making Coconut Chocolate Haystacks at Christmas time is becoming a holiday tradition. Best of all they are super easy to make!

Ingredients and Supplies:

12 ounce bag of dark chocolate chips (I like to use Ghiradelli)

14 ounce bag of sweetened coconut

Glass batter bowl – 2 quart size

Small Scoop – Tablespoon Size (I use Pampered Chef Small Scoop)

Waxed Paper

Directions:

Pour chips into a glass bowl and microwave on high for 1 minute. Remove from microwave and stir chips. Return and microwave for 30 seconds. Take out and stir well. Once more for 30 seconds, stir well until all chips are melted . If necessary return to microwave for 15 more seconds.

Slowly add coconut, breaking up clumps and stirring well after each addition. Keeping adding coconut and stirring until you have used all of the coconut. You will have a stiff mixture.

Use scoop and press against side of bowl to compress. Dispense onto wax paper and let the haystacks set until firm. Stored in an airtight container. Makes lots! About 4 to 5 dozen.

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Share, eat and enjoy!

Need a glass bowl or a small scoop? Check out the following links – –

The Pampered Chef Small Scoop #2530

Anchor Hocking 2 Quart Ovenproof Glass Batter Bowl