First there was the Christmas Stocking:
My friend got it the day before Christmas, just in time for stuffing it with goodies for her son's first birthday! She loved it, her son loved it, and she couldn't believe it was my first stocking. To tell you the truth, I was a little surprised myself. And proud! I can't make to make homemade stockings for Thathouse next year! And the host of little babies that all my friends seem to be having lately (so far we're at 6 boys between 2008/2009).
Then came Thanksgiving dinner....in December. We were to have friends over before we left and as every good hostess, I requested dietary restrictions which was a good thing, since she's sticking heavily to white meat (not including pork) and I don't do seafood. I decided to do a Thanksgiving meal since turkey is a fantastic white meat and I've never gotten to make one before! I spent all day brining a turkey and making sides when the call came - illness forced our guests to cancel. Luckily Sisterwife jumped in to save the day (and if she's figured out my blog yet she's going to be hysterical laughing at this point in time). Her and her husband, who were already coming over later that week gladly decided to forgoe the red meat I'd promised them for Thatgirl's first turkey. But Sisterwife came exactly on time, and rather than whip out the camera, we sat down to a hot meal. You're stuck with pictures of what remained. Lucky for you, I always over do it when company comes so there was a lot left over.The turkey! Thatmom (and Thatdad) make the turkey every Thanksgiving and they are not briners. But I had heard good things about it, and so I decided to give it a try. Thatboy said it was the best turkey he'd ever eaten! It was perfectly done, moist, and flavorful. I had a terrible fear of undercooking the bird and serving raw turkey to my guests, but who would have guessed 2 hours is all a turkey needs? I also roasted the turkey breast side down for an hour before flipping it, and Thatmom thinks that may be the weirdest thing she's ever heard of, but it came out well!
Gravy. Made from pan drippings and the roasted giblets and turkey neck. Thatboy was a little hesitant about this. I think he asked 4 or 5 times "why are you keeping the turkey neck and giblets?" Of course for fun I was keeping them in a plastic bag in the fridge right on top of his lunch box........... I took the turkey out of the oven 2 hours before the guests arrived, and had piping hot gravy ready to pour over it! Perfect!
Thatboy's favorite part of Thanksgiving is the stuffing, so I made a ton of it! Thatmom always makes two kinds of stuffing, in the bird and outside of the bird, but since so many people are worried about bacteria by cooking in the turkey, I made this outside the bird just in case. I also used chicken sausage since it was originally made for someone who doesn't eat pork.
I felt bad about not having anything green, and having so many starches, so I threw some spinach in the skillet with toasted pine nuts and raisins. Nothing fancy. Not really Thanksgiving-y, but it added some green color to the table. The raisins add some sweetness and the pine nuts add a nutty flavor and this is a great way to get someone to eat spinach!
Sweet potatoes. Not my best dish. Don't get me wrong, I love everything made with sweet potatoes (as does PI, Sisterwife's husband) but Thatboy didn't like the consistency. I put the sweet potatoes in the food processor and they came out a little pureed (Thatboy calls it baby food). I spoke with Thatsister-in-law's sister while we were out of town because she makes the most fantastic sweet potatoes and she said she mashes them with a fork, so they're still chunky. Thatboy likes hers better, so I'm going to use that technique from now on. Topping them with pecans and brown sugar however will probably stay.
Cranberry Relish. Thatboy wasn't a fan of this either. I wanted to make it on my own and not use any of my mom's recipes for this Thanksgiving so I didn't use her fabulous cranberry relish, but that was a mistake. Thatboy thought this was too tart and not nearly as sweet as my mom's. I know her secret ingredient, so maybe next time I'll use that. All I know is that it was very exciting to watch the fresh cranberries boil away on the stove!
Mashed Potatoes. These were a huge hit. I'm still kinda tasting them in my mouth, and it's been two weeks! I think what sends them over the edge is the heavy cream and white cheddar cheese. Yeah - that's pretty much all it takes right?
And finally, getting ready for the Holidays! There was holiday shopping to be done, and activities to plan. I made boxes for Thatniece and Thatnephew to open each day we visited filled with activities. Activities like making Christmas cookies and watching Christmas movies, making hot cocoa and going to look at the decorated house lights, celebrating Chanukkah and making latkes and sufganiyot. All the activities went over great and each one was a brand new first time experience for the kids which is always fun. And of course there were all the Christmas office treats!
I hope you all had a wonderful holiday! Don't forget the Platinum Chef Challenge deadline is almost upon us! Later this week I'll post the rest of the Christmas update with all the goodies and sweets that give you something to have a New Years resolution about.