Posts tagged ‘Thanksgiving’

November 26, 2013

Turkey Day Changeup

This year’s Thanksgiving had been a bit turned on its head in our house. Some of our Thanksgiving family had a conflict so we decided to move the festivities to Friday so we could all be together. It has kind of thrown us for a loop in terms of planning and prep because we have a whole extra day! Nothing to complain about, I know but it does change the things you always do. The other big change for us is the menu…we didn’t want to just repeat Thanksgiving in all its glory, but have an upscale riff on leftovers. So, our planning has turned to making things a little differently and centering everything around sandwiches! How can you go wrong?? We have found that there are some traditional things that people can’t live without. So far, we have made dough for rolls and cookies, stuffing, cream puff shells, cranberry relish and chipotle cranberry sauce. Here is our menu (in progress as always):


Thanksgiving Menu 2013



Shrimp Cocktail

Sweet Potato Croquettes



Roasted Turkey Sandwiches

Beef Tenderloin Sandwiches

Wild Turkey Casserole


Mashed Potatoes

Caesar Salad Spears

Cranberry Relish

Cranberry Chipotle Sauce

Sweet Potato Rolls


Onion Jam



Pumpkin Pie with Vanilla Whipped Cream

Cream Puffs with Pumpkin Mousse and Chocolate No-Moo Mousse Filling

Ginger Snaps


If you would like to see our regular schedule, check this out! Countdown Day 7, Day 5, Day 4, Day 1


It will be a great way to spend the day after turkey day! Happy Thanksgiving to You and Yours! Back with more recipes post-Thanksgiving.


PS—I think the patrons at Whole Foods today need a good reminder of the spirit of the season since it seems we need police presence in the parking lot and a near riot over a lack of whipping cream! I am still trying to kill it with kindness and a smile! Thank goodness for some friendly employees. J


November 5, 2012

Wild Thanksgiving in an Hour

On a cold morning in October, Geff and I went out to fill my turkey tag. I had to be on an airplane at 10:30am headed to watch the Ohio State Buckeyes play the Nebraska Corn Huskers. We were out for a little over an hour when the sun came up and the turkeys started coming down from their tree top roost. We waited as one after another came down from the trees. Finally there was one close enough to shoot. With the sunlight still dim, my shotgun flashed so bright with fire coming from the barrel. Three times shots rang, and no bird fell. Quickly, before she left, I switched to the riffle and got her between the wings. My first hunt! My first wild game! How exciting. Then just as quick as it happened I was on the plane to Ohio (to see the Buckeyes win 63 to 38!)

After my trip it was time to cook the bird. Image

Geff put it together in the slow cooker so that the turkey would keeps its moisture in.


Turkey Breast; Rosemary, basil, salt, pepper, olive oil, Italian salad dressing, lemon pepper

cook in the Slow Cooker on low for 6-8 hrs depending on size


To go with our early Thanksgiving feast, I made some classic Grands Biscuits.

We made gravy using a Kroger Turkey Gravy as a base, and I added about 1/3 of a glass of Guiness, and 1 tablespoon of Balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. It was a beautiful dark brown color with a tangy, interesting flavor that went well with the wild bird.


Rounding out the meal, Geff threw together some zucchini in a frying pan, and sliced some kiwi to go with dinner. And you can’t have a thanksgiving dinner without StoveTop Stuffing!


What an honor it was to have that bird bring us out meal and our adventure! Turned out to be one of the best dinners we’ve cooked in our new little house!


December 4, 2011

Chocolate Pumpkin Roulade

Now is probably the time to share with you that I am on strike. Pumpkin Pie making strike. Why? I tried for years to create a pumpkin pie that could beat Costco – we even had taste tests – with my crust usually faring well but Costco winning overall. My guess is it is kind of like trying to beat Campbell’s tomato soup, it will never be the same as people’s memory food. I personally think that I accomplished that at least once, but I am not a gelatin in pie fan, so I just can’t create that same texture that people seem to love in store bought pie. I have pretty much perfected my pie crust recipe and would put it up against anyone’s, however I am not going to waste the work on something I don’t really care about. See, I got all caught up in this beating Costco at Thanksgiving challenge that I completely overlooked the fact I don’t actually like pumpkin pie. Since it is a must have for many people at Thanksgiving, that gets delegated for someone to pick up from Costco. Chocolate pumpkin roulade on the other hand is right up my alley. It combines chocolate with a light, creamy, spice filled mousse. This is something you can make ahead and freeze to be pulled out and defrosted during your party (as we did.) You could use it at any holiday party for an instant hit. This is absolutely worth the effort!


My friend Lisa’s mom used to make pumpkin roulade and she made it once. That is what got me thinking about making this. Then we came across Jacques Pepin’s chocolate roulade in Cooking at Home. It is more like flourless chocolate cake in a roll. Since I had many years of experience cutting wedding cakes and having butter cream up to my elbows I really don’t like cake, so this sounded like a perfect compromise, plus we already had our pureed pumpkin and needed to use it. We have made pumpkin mousse in the past several times that came out great and is a LOT lighter than pumpkin pie. I am ok with pumpkin pie – just not after Thanksgiving dinner. I would rather have it for breakfast afterwards. So thank Jacques for the chocolate roulade and the pumpkin cream is our own in place of his crème-Chantilly. He also uses this as the base for bûche de Noel, so you can use this for any upcoming Christmas parties. One more note – this is WAY easier than it looks. I was pleasantly surprised at how easily this came together.


Chocolate Pumpkin Roulade

Chocolate Roulade Ingredients

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, for pan

1 cup heavy cream

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, in small pieces

7 egg whites, room temperature

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 tablespoon cocoa powder, plus more for garnish

Pumpkin Cream Ingredients

1 pint whipped cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon sugar

1 cup pumpkin puree

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon fresh nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger



Preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack in center. Butter an 11-by-17-inch jelly-roll pan or a 12-by-17 1/2-inch sheet pan, and line with parchment paper. If you butter half of the parchment and fold it in half then cut a one inch slit in the non-fold corners, you will have a perfect pan liner every time!

In a small saucepan, heat 1 cup cream to a simmer. Add chocolate, reduce heat, and whisk until chocolate is melted. As soon as mixture is a uniform dark color, remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes.

In a large bowl and using a hand mixer, whip egg whites and 2 tablespoons sugar to stiff, glossy peaks, about 1 1/2 minutes.

Whisk one-quarter of the egg-white mixture into the chocolate mixture.

Gently fold chocolate mixture back into the original egg-white mixture, and mix until smooth and well combined.

Pour batter into the prepared pan, and spread it in an even layer with a rubber spatula.

Bake until cake is set and puffy, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and cool to room temperature. Lift parchment paper to remove cake from pan, and set it on work surface with long side facing edge of table. Using a fine-mesh sieve, lightly dust cake with cocoa powder.

Make the pumpkin cream. Whip the cream with vanilla and sugar until soft peaks form. Fold in pumpkin puree and remaining spices until just combined. Spread a layer over the cake leaving at least an inch boarder.

Roll the cake lengthwise, starting at a point 2 to 3 inches over the pumpkin cream. Roll cake another few inches, pressing against parchment paper to make a tight spiral. Gently peel parchment paper off as cake layer rolls away.

Complete the roll, stopping at the far edge of the parchment paper.

Tuck the loose parchment paper around and underneath the cylinder so it is well wrapped and can be moved easily.

Serve immediately, or refrigerate for up to 4 hours. (You can also freeze the roulade wrapped in the parchment and a layer of plastic wrap.)

When ready to serve, transfer roulade to serving platter. Remove parchment paper, gently rolling cake into center of platter, with seam on bottom. (If roll has slumped or twisted, lay a piece of plastic over top and sides, and reshape with hands.) With a sharp knife, trim both ends of roll crosswise or on a diagonal. Dust top with confectioners’ sugar and cocoa powder, and garnish with seasonal fruit. To serve, cut the roll into 1-inch-thick slices, and lay flat on dessert plates.

Please excuse the last photo, I forgot to take a final picture, so this is after being frozen, cut and refrozen and picked at. It was much prettier the day of, especially with a dollop of whipped cream! One of our guests said “I think Jacques would approve of the pumpkin cream.” I think I would have proudly served it to him if I was fortunate enough to host him!

November 30, 2011

Turkey Roulade

I promised you some recipes this week from our fabulous Thanksgiving celebration last week. This is one of my favorites. We just use our regular sausage stuffing recipe as there always seems to be enough. We also glaze the roulade with our homemade apple habañero jam (which is super easy; I will post that soon.) Last year, Mary actually boned the turkey breast on Thanksgiving morning…quite the undertaking. This year we ordered an extra turkey and had the very nice butchers at Whole Foods do it for us. The boned the breast and kept the pieces for us, which meant more meat and more soup, YUM! You can, of course just buy a breast, but it must be whole and not split. This recipe is surprisingly easy and I think it actually makes a better product than the whole turkey. It stays very moist and is very pretty when you cut it. Not to mention, it makes for great leftovers to send home with your guests. Try it out…maybe for Christmas?


Glazed Turkey Roulade

1 whole (2 halves) turkey breast, boned and butterflied (about 5 pounds)

2 onions halved

3 stalks celery cut into 3 inch pieces

3 carrots cut into 3 inch pieces

3 cups prepared stuffing

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons butter, melted


Place the stuffing in a large bowl. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Prepare a sheet pan with cooking spray and place the vegetables on the pan.

Rinse the turkey breast then lay the butterflied turkey breast skin side down on a cutting board.

Use a heavy pan to pound the turkey breast to a more even thickness.

Dry the turkey very well (this is very important.) Spread the stuffing in a 1/2-inch-thick layer over the meat, leaving a half-inch border on all sides.

Don’t mound the stuffing or the turkey will be difficult to roll. Starting at 1 end, roll the turkey like a jelly roll and tuck in any stuffing that tries to escape on the sides.

Tie the roast firmly with kitchen twine (or close with tooth picks as we did here, though twine is better) every 2 inches to make a compact cylinder.

Place the stuffed turkey breast seam side down on the rack on the sheet pan. Brush with the melted butter, sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.

Roast for 1 3/4 to 2 hours, until an instant-read thermometer registers 150 degrees F in the center. About 20 min before the turkey is done, brush with the glaze. Repeat twice about 5 minutes apart.

Cover the turkey with aluminum foil and allow it to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes. Carve 1/2-inch-thick slices and serve warm.

If you make leftover stuffing, you can place it in a buttered gratin dish and bake for the last 45 minutes of roasting alongside the turkey.

November 26, 2011


We are still coming down and recovering from Thanksgiving and mostly taking it easy this weekend with football and classic movies while trying to get outside a bit as well. I thought I would share with you some of the highlights of our day…with some of the recipes to come this week.

As you know from our countdown list, we were working all week…here is the culmination. Our scribbled on master list, our buffet all laid out with sticky notes, the zillion appetizers we ended up with, and my personal fav: Veuve Clicquot, courtesy of some fabulous guests.

All of our appetizers got relocated to make room for the actual buffet, but I have to say they were amazing! Including something new for us, fresh duck and dove; delish!

Lovely table courtesy of Ali and an array of borrowed and creative decorations!

We had an amazing group of people who were all willing to pitch in. Plus, the highlight of an hour-long session of what we are thankful for; gotta love a happy and thankful group! A great party like this makes all the work – and dishes – worth it!


I hope you all had as wonderful a day as we did. I really couldn’t have asked for more!


November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Countdown: 1 Day

Today is a big prep day! Check out our list here. There are always things that come up and things that you forgot to pick up. Or maybe new great ideas you came up with this week that you just have to incorporate. Regardless, I will be trekking out to the store for a few last minute things and some decorations. Plus, a trip to the gym for one more good workout.

Here’s how we split up the day:


5:30 Spinning Class

7:00 Review Thanksgiving lists

8:30 Work

12:00 Lunch Prep time! I work close to home, so in 45 minutes here’s what I accomplished:

  • Peel potatoes and celeriac. Store in water.
  • Cut Celery, carrots, radishes. Store in water.
  • Clean and sauté Leeks.
  • Coordinate with friends –bringing me stuffing so I’ll have it in the am. Also bringing appetizer, squash, rolls and whatever else she wants to make (thanks Lisa!)

Back to work!

I got off easy.

Here’s what Kelly did:

  • Gym for a good 90 minute strength workout got my head on straight for errands!
  • Running store to sign up for the Turkey trot! (Really? Yep. Guess we’re doing that)
  • Went to Whole Foods (For the complicated special order boned turkey for the roulade. Even they think we are crazy; at least we don’t have to bone it this year!)
  • Went to regular grocery
  • Went to specialty store for candles—that worst part with people buying last minute decorations and cookware, yikes!
  • Blanched the green beans
  • Made croutons
  • Made ginger cookies
  • Started setting the table
  • Another run to the liquor store!

Still to do tonight:

  • Set the table
  • Make dip for veggie platter
  • Lay out clothes for tomorrow: running and dress up clothes (what to wear??)
  • Make compound butter for the turkey
  • Lay out serving dishes/utensils for the buffet

Hope your preparations are going as well as ours! The best part of today I have to say was the beautiful Colorado sky and 70 degree weather with an open sunroof. Happy thanksgiving to you and yours!!





November 21, 2011

Holiday Fitness

We REALLY don’t want to gain the usual two to five pounds during the holidays. Here are some things we try to do:

  • Do your best on the non-holiday meals to eat healthy, non goopy meals.
  • For breakfast eat something light and filling like oatmeal, fruit and non fat yogurt.
  • Do your best to include fresh fruits and veggies at each meal, accompany with lean protein like chicken or shrimp.
  • Try to get some exercise in the morning so that it doesn’t go by the wayside. My husband has completed 27 marathons and he says if you plan to run six miles…if you actually run in the morning before starting your day you WILL run six miles. If you wait till lunch it’ll be four and if you wait till after work it will end up being one or two.
  • Set a minimum bottom line for exercise during the holidays. For example, mine is to walk for 20 minutes. No matter what. We’ll see how it goes…
  • Find a Turkey Trot (or other outdoor activity) to do with your family on Thanksgiving morning. Getting some exercise in is a good way to earn your dinner!

P.S. If you can’t decide what to do at the gym, check out Gabby Reece’s Train 360 plans.


November 20, 2011

Thanksgiving Countdown: 4 Days

Today we want to share with you our plan for the week. As I mentioned before, we like to spread out our tasks across the week to make things a bit easier. Yesterday, we did most of our shopping, so we are all set to get started. Since some things save better than others, you need to think about what can be done the earliest. Also, now is a good time to reconfirm your guests. Just remember, if anyone wants to come last minute (or cancels), you are already making everything so don’t freak out! Here is what we are planning:


  • Finish menu planning
  • Shop
    • Grocery
    • Beverages, both non-alcoholic, festive cocktails, wine and beer – Ask your guests to bring what they like to drink. If you keep what you like or the basics, then you are covered. Remember kids and non-drinkers.


  • Count place settings
  • Polish silver, check glasses for dust.
  • Make cranberry sauce
  • Make pumpkin roulade (to be frozen)
  • If you are making rolls or pie crust, make them today and freeze
  • Start defrosting turkey in the refrigerator (ours is 21 lbs, check the instructions for your bird)
  • Get nails done (a nice treat after prepping all day)


  • Get a good workout in to start the week off right!
  • Decide on seating arrangements
  • Pull out decorations


  • Complete shopping
  • Make onion jam
  • Brine turkey (if you do this; we don’t)
  • Blanch green beans
  • Make stuffing (leaving out eggs to add before stuffing the turkey)


  • Make cranberry relish
  • Peel potatoes and keep refrigerated in a water bath
  • Set the table
  • Clear serving area
  • Set up bar and chill beverages
  • Clean the house


  • Turkey Trot!
  • Roast Turkey
  • Turkey Roulade
  • Mashed Potatoes with Celery Root
  • Finish Citrus Green Beans
  • Defrost pumpkin roulade
  • Make gravy
    • William Sonoma makes Turkey Gravy Base that we always keep on hand for Thanksgiving just in case you need to supplement your gravy. It is awesome, especially if you end up a little scant on your drippings. My recommendation is to get it early because they tend to sell out; I drove 35 miles last year to get ours…oops!

Our Thanksgiving tends to be pretty traditional and straightforward. We try to include everything that is a favorite of each guest: if there is something they can’t live without, we make try to make it happen or ask them to bring it. We try to experiment on the other things and tend to make a few last minute additions (often in the way of appetizers and dessert). Plus, as I mentioned, we delegate a lot of the tasks which makes the day much easier! It has always been a team effort for us, which really is fun. Is there anything unusual you include for Thanksgiving? Fried turkey? Noodles? Soup? We always love hearing people’s traditions!

November 19, 2011

Thanksgiving Countdown: 5 Days

Our Thanksgiving tradition has evolved over the years, but the last 10 or so years, we have joined forces with a family friend to share the workload and the fun! As we mentioned earlier in the week, we always invite people who are without a “home” for dinner. It really has made things fun and interesting over the years. Plus, when you split things up, it gives us the opportunity to experiment with some new dishes. The weekend before Thanksgiving is a great time to get organized and start on your shopping. Planning out your menu, make-ahead dishes and timeline will also help keep the stress at a minimum for the week. Check out our menu (in progress) below.

Thanksgiving Menu 2011


  • Shrimp Cocktail
  • Relish Tray
  • Bacon Wrapped Duck with Jalapeño and Cranberry BBQ Sauce
  • Dove Nuggets
  • Spiniach and Artichoke Dip with Pita Chips
  • Holiday Brie with Crackers and Apples
  • Stuffed Grapes


  • Roasted Turkey
  • Turkey Roulade
  • Stuffing
  • Mashed Potatoes with Celery Root
  • Citrus Green Beans
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Cranberry Relish
  • Rolls
  • Cider Gravy
  • Onion Jam
  • Asparagus
  • Squash Casserole


  • Pumpkin Pie with Vanilla Whipped Cream
  • Pecan Pie
  • Chocolate Roulade with Pumpkin Mousse Filling
  • Ginger Snaps

**The items in green were added after Thanksgiving and this represents our final menu with lots of appetizer additions.

What we do from here is to decide who will be making what dishes. Next, pull out any recipes you will need and make a list of all the ingredients you will need for each dish. Then, double check what you have on hand for both equipment and pantry items. Finally, go shopping! Thanksgiving preparation can feel overwhelming but if you do one or from two things a night, it really helps!

A couple tips if you are up for it:

  • Our friend makes copies of each recipe so they are within reach while cooking. Keeps your cookbooks from getting icky. ~Mary
  • I am neurotic and start by listing things by dish and then reorder them by section of the store in a spreadsheet. It really helps make shopping more efficient. ~Kelly

Next steps: Make a plan for the week.

November 17, 2011

Thanksgiving Countdown: 7 Days

We got a little too caught up in life this week to pull together a full Thanksgiving prep list for you. So let’s start with where you should be today. You should have:

  • Invited your guests
  • Check on special food needs for guests
  • Planned your menu (not so hard with Thanksgiving)
  • Check your place settings and seating to make sure you have enough chairs and forks.
  • Given your guests assignments of what they can bring
  • Prepare your shopping list for this weekend

Next we always like to ask our guests if they know of anyone who needs a home for dinner. After all, it makes little difference if you do Thanksgiving Dinner for 4 or 34!!! Just get a bigger Turkey.

Next steps: shopping lists, shopping and make sure no one you know is alone on Thanksgiving!!!

& Kelly

%d bloggers like this: