Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving Favorites

Hi Friends!

Is everyone excited for Thanksgiving?  This is one of my favorite times of the year.  We'll be spending a long, relaxing weekend with family at a good friend's lake house in Deep Creek.  I cannot wait to relax in the hot tub out on the deck looking into the woods. 

Ahh Deep Creek

One of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving is finding the perfect balance of classic, traditional recipes and new, interesting ones.  I like to do most of the cooking, though my father always cooks the turkey on the grill.  I love spending all day in the kitchen with my family, drinking cup after cup of coffee, watching football while chopping vegetables and stirring whatever is on the stove and chatting with my mom.  Below you'll find some of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes from the past few years.  

There are a few things we have without fail every year – A grilled, sage-butter turkey, chive mashed potatoes, cranberry jelly (from the can – only ever eaten by my sister) and sweet potato pudding with marshmallows on top (often accidentally lit on fire by being cooked too close to the broiler.)  The recipes below are things I've found that we have tried and loved and are on heavy rotation both for Thanksgiving and regular Sunday dinners at my parents.

Note* I like to brown a couple of slices of bacon first and use that fat to cook the sprouts and then crumble the bacon on top of the finished dish (I think they call this gilding the lily…)

This risotto is really fantastic with a homemade stock. 

These are a nice lightish alternative to a heavier creamed spinach type dish. 

Everything from Smitten Kitchen is always awesome.  Always. 

Another Thanksgiving favorite is butternut squash soup.  Below is a recipe I've sort of cobbled together by taking bits of other recipes I've really enjoyed.  We make this soup once every couple of weeks in winter. 

Smoky Butternut Squash Soup

2 medium-large butternut squash
4 cloves garlic
2 large poblano peppers (if you cannot find these, two chilies in adobo without the sauce will give a nice warmth to the soup also)
Olive oil
1 onion
¼ cup white wine
1 can fire roasted tomatoes
1 can coconut milk
1 tbsp turmeric (optional)

Preheat oven to 400*

Halve 2 large butternut squash (any deep orange winter squash will work here), clean out the seeds and rub them down with olive oil and a little salt.  Deseed the poblanos and put them on the tray with the squash.
Put them skin side up on a lined cookie sheet and pop 2 cloves of garlic in each seed hole (get over it… I'm sure they teach you the technical terms in culinary school) and top with a splash more olive oil
Roast until fork tender (about 40 min or so depending on the thickness)
In the meantime chop 1 onion and sauté in a tbsp of olive oil in a soup pot over med high heat.  When just starting to caramelize, add white wine and a can of crushed tomatoes (I like muir glen fire roasted) and let simmer.
When the squash are soft, let them cool a bit and scoop them into a blender (Vitamix is best, a hand blender would work also).  Add the coconut milk, a tbsp of curry powder and 2 tbsp salt (add the chipotles at this point if using) and puree until smooth.  If soup seems too thick, add a bit of water or stock to thin it out. 

So there ya go, a few recipes to get you going.  Hope you all have a fantastic thanksgiving!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Chronic Bitch Face

Hi peeps!

Semi-big post coming up later this week on my favorite holiday ever - Thanksgiving!  Several of my favorite recipes will definitely be included.  For now, I'm trying to pace myself as I dip my toe back into the blogging waters.

For today, I just wanted to share a site that I absolutely love, Krisatomic.  Specifically - this post on chronic bitch face (which I totally have and have accepted....)

I totally get this. People often tell me I look a. pissed, b. tired, c. miserable.  I know, I need new friends :)

Happy Monday!


Updated: Apparently my husband thinks he has bitch face MUCH worse than I do. He says - "yours is not chronic... you have no idea what's it's like to live with's a serious handicap you know :)"
haha, it's true - the man makes a mean bitchface!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Remember Me?

Hi Friends!  Remember that time that I said I would never leave you for that long again?  Ahh sorry!  Life got the best of me for a bit and while I won't make any more promises, I will try my absolute hardest not to abandon you so severely.  Truth is, I missed this space and would really like to get back to it in earnest. 
So here we are.  I hope that I didn't leave you for so long that you forgot about me!  What inspired me most to come back and post (that rhyme was totally unintended but it's awesome so it stays) was a visit I made with some wonderful friends to a Virginia winery and farm a while back to celebrate my darling friend Marianne's impending nuptuals.   The farm and vineyard is called Zephania and their tasting room is in the living room of their family home, built in the 1800s.

The company was great, the wine was delicious but the best part was the incredibly welcoming family that ran the vineyard.  Everyone in the family had other full time jobs and was running the farm and vineyard in their spare time - a true labor of love! Their son, who provided us with our tour and barrel tasting, had graduated with a degree in viticulture and chemistry and was working with some new and interesting blends (holy runon sentence batman).

Their land is also home to a farm on which they raise some fantastic grass fed beef.  They lovingly care for their animals and ensure they have the best and healthiest possible life.  The farm and vineyard are both sustainable, family run operations that I love to support.  (The fact that they are right near the fabulous Leesburg Outlets is an added bonus.) If you sign up for their facebook page, they'll let you know when you can come by the farm and help them pick the grapes.

If you're looking for something fun to do this fall/winter, please visit Zephania Vineyard.  I can't say enough good things about this lovely, family run winery and farm!