Thursday, November 28, 2013

November 28-Thanksgiving Dinner

Today marked a major milestone: I hosted my first Thanksgiving! 

Chris and I have always wanted to host a holiday, but we had always lived in an apartment up until this year. We love to entertain and excitedly offered to host Thanksgiving as soon as we moved into our new home. What a wonderful day it was! Our home was filled with both sides of our family, plenty of laughter, and lots of love. 

Even though I've become pretty comfortable in the kitchen over the last few years, Thanksgiving dinner seemed a little intimidating. This meal would mark a defining moment for me as a woman! (Okay, so maybe that's somewhat dramatic, but it IS important!) The task was daunting but I was eager to face the challenge. I also knew I could count on my mom to be a great coach. She came over last night to walk me through the washing, de-throating, turkey-prepping process. 

The day was a success! 

I've made this dip for two years in a row and there are NEVER any leftovers. 

Pumpkin Dip
15oz can of pumpkin
5oz box instant vanilla pudding (Just the mix, do not make the pudding. Can sub sugar-free and/or fat-free)
16oz Cool Whip
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp cinnamon

1. Mix pumpkin, pudding mix, Cool Whip, and pumpkin pie spice together by hand in a large bowl. 2. Sprinkle with cinnamon. 
3. Chill for several hours before serving.
4. Serve with apple slices, vanilla wafers, or pretzels.

Roasting a turkey for the first time can be intimidating. It is a lot of work, but it really is not too hard if you know what to do! Here are a few tips from a fellow first-timer!

Turkey Tips for First-Timers

1. Be sure that your turkey is fully thawed. 
It can take a few days for a large bird, so be sure to plan ahead.

2. There is a neck, liver, giblets, and a few others surprises inside your turkey. 
Remove them before you stuff your turkey. 

3. Clean your bird and pat it dry. I did this the night before and it helped save time for the morning. 

4. Make your stuffing the night before, but do not stuff the turkey until you are ready to bake it. 

5. Be sure to plan ahead for the time it will take to cook your bird. My turkey was 20lbs and needed 6-7 hours to cook. We ate an early meal, which meant that the bird needed to go in the oven around 4:30am. This meant setting the alarm for 3:45am, to give me enough time to stuff the turkey.

6. Ever wanted to be a surgeon? Here's your chance. Stuff both ends of the turkey and sew him up!

7. Cover with foil and bake.

8. Go back to bed, Sleepy Head. 

We feasted. Rolls, corn, yams, cranberry sauce, jello salad, creamy mashed potatoes (You don't really want to know what's in them, but here's the recipe. You won't be sorry.), green bean casserole, smoked ham, stuffing, and turkey.

Today was wonderful. I'm so thankful for our families, our home, and for God's faithfulness. 

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

November 13-Make Ahead Meal #3: Crockpot Pepper Steak/Cheesesteak Flatbread Sandwiches

Although adjusting to a longer commute can be a challenge, discovering new make-ahead meals can be pretty fun! There is nothing like coming home to a home cooked meal simmering in the crockpot. Yum.

Crockpot Pepper Steak
Original Recipe from MJWAGNER68 at
1.5-2lbs beef sirloin, cut into 2-inch strips
Garlic powder
3 tbsp vegetable or olive oil
1 cube beef bouillon
1/4 cup hot water
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup chopped onion or 2 tbsp dried onion
2 large bell peppers, chopped
1 14.5oz can stewed tomatoes, with liquid
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp white sugar
1 tsp salt

The night before (or the morning of):

1. In large skillet, heat oil and brown the beef strips. Sprinkle with garlic powder to taste. Transfer meat to slow cooker.
2. Mix bouillon cube with hot water until dissolved. Next, mix cornstarch until dissolved. Pour into slow cooker with meat. Stir in onion, peppers, tomatoes, soy sauce, sugar, and salt.
3. Cover and refrigerate until ready to cook (I recommend cooking within 24 hours of prep).

The day of: 

Cover and cook on High 3-4 hours or on Low 6-8 hours.

Cheesesteak Flatbread 
This pepper steak works great as sandwich filling! Toast two flatbread rounds. Using a slotted spoon to eliminate juice, placed a scoop of the steak and pepper mixture on top of one half. Top with mozzarella cheese and place other half of the flatbread on top to create a sandwich. Enjoy!

*Original recipe suggests serving the pepper stead over rice or noodles, which would pair very nicely with this dish!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Make-Ahead Meal #2: Turkey Burgers

For my husband's birthday, I bought him a grill as a gift. He was thrilled! (Let's be honest; I was pretty excited myself! Hooray for barbecue!) He was dying to fire up the grill this week, so I gladly whipped up some of my famous (at least in our family) turkey burgers! These little guys work great as a make-ahead option. The recipe can be found in one of my previous posts: Savory Turkey Burgers.

Make-Ahead Meal #2

Sunday Night: Prepare patties as directed. We were planning to grill the burgers on Monday, so I did not bother freezing them. I simply covered them tightly and placed them in the refrigerator. If eating at a later date, you could seal the patties tightly and freeze them. 

Monday Night: Grill up the burgers and toast your buns! 
While hubby was grilling, I whipped up a small batch of Homemade French Fries and Zucchini Fries