Friday Favorites – 05112018

The list of stuff I’ve been digging on lately. 🙂

1) X-Men

I’ve mentioned before my affinity for digital comics. Well, I’ve been reading a lot of X-Men books lately, at Steve’s suggestion. They’re one of his favorite titles.

I’d read a few X-Men books in the past, but lately I’ve been on more of a kick. Which is good, I guess, since we’ve got plenty of issues for me to choose from (the suggested reading order he wrote up for me me is quite lengthy. Ha.)

 

God Loves, Man Kills was the basis for the film X-Men 2, and Days of Future Past was the inspiration for the movie of the same title. I liked both movies, but I thought both books were even better!

Cyclops

My favorite X-Man, Cyclops

 

2)  This guest post on Becoming Minimalist, about gratitude:

This pretty much speaks for itself, so I’ll just leave the link here:

I liked this quote:

“Think of something in your life that you tend to take for granted. It can be as simple as running water or groceries in your fridge, or that you get to listen to music you enjoy or read books that inspire you. Now consider, for a moment, what your life would be like if you didn’t have it?

Especially at times when I find myself caught up in thinking about how something is not quite right—flight is delayed, garage door is broken—I remind myself to pause and think: Imagine life without this. It doesn’t mean I don’t ever want anything or wish for something to be better, but this simple exercise fills me with deep gratitude for the many amazing things that do fill my life, and it offers a helpful way to prioritize where I spend my emotional energy.”

 

3) Amazon giveaways

Last month, I hosted a couple of giveaways on Amazon. It was so much fun I knew I wanted to do it again, so for my birthday, I gave away a bunch of books. There were winners for everything but one copy of The Princess Diaries, so I’m re-listing it again :). Check it out here:

See this #AmazonGiveaway for a chance to win: The Princess Diaries (Kindle Edition). https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/2a9c6dd164ae8cd6 NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Ends the earlier of May 18, 2018 11:59 PM PDT, or when all prizes are claimed. See Official Rules http://amzn.to/GArules. (Claimed! :))

I’m also giving away a copy of The Lunar Chronicles coloring book, because I think it’s cool and I sort of wish I had one. Ha.

Lunar Chron coloring book

(I’ll post the giveaway link when Amazon sends it to me). (Edit: This giveaway was over so soon, I didn’t have time to post the link! Congrats to the winner :))

Just to be clear, I’m not suggesting that anything I write is particularly similar to any of the stuff I’ve given away. These are just books I really like, by authors I think are talented. They can be counted as influences of mine, I suppose, and definitely as recommendations! 🙂

These giveaways have been a lot of fun for me, and I think I’ll probably continue to host a few throughout the rest of the year.

4) My birthday

I turned 41 last month!

It was great. 🙂

Steve and I usually like to celebrate one another’s birthdays all month long, so…we did a lot of stuff. We attended several screenings of some of my fave horror and sci-fi movies  (The Brood, Videodrome, Nightbreed) at The Alamo Drafthouse, and he also took me to see Jonathan Davis perform when he came through here on his solo tour! So fun. I’m excited for JD’s new album! Only a couple more weeks to go.

Jonathan Davis

JD and his band. Photo by Steve

On my actual birthday, we went out for breakfast doughnuts and then to see The Avengers: Infinity War, which of course was awesome.

 

Then we went out for my fave meal, pizza and beer for dinner (Because I am classy like that. Ha). I had a great time. Steve sent me these gorgeous multi-colored roses.

 

 

5) Chips and Cheese Chili Casserole

Okay, this is probably one of the easiest recipes ever, but it is so, SO GOOD. I always joke that I could probably eat a whole pan in one sitting. I like it so much, this is what I chose to make myself for my birthday meal (a few days before my actual birthday…like I said, we tend to stretch out the celebrations to an inordinate degree around here :)).

chili chips and cheese casserole ingredients

I think this casserole would be great for a pot-luck, particularly if you made it a day ahead because it tastes even better after it’s been sitting in the fridge all night.

chili chips casserole completed

Probably not the healthiest thing you could ever eat, but also not the worst for you. The recipe says it’s gluten-free and with all those beans, it’s got to be high in fiber, right? So there’s that!

chili chips casserole leftovers_1

This is pretty much all that is ever left over.

FWIW, the recipe says there are all sorts of different ways you can make this casserole, and I’m sure that is true, but…the first time I made it, I used (1) 15 oz. can of black beans, (1) 8 oz. can of tomato sauce and (1) 14.5 oz. can of Amy’s brand Medium Chili, and this combo was so tasty, I have never bothered to change it. I think ONE time I tried it with a different kind of vegetarian chili and I just didn’t like it as much, so…these are the ingredients I normally stick with. I also like to use Kraft Triple Cheddar “Creamy Melt with a touch of Philadelphia cream cheese” in this, because it adds more tartness and pairs well with the sour cream (I think). Try it and see!

5) Craft beer

I’m not sure how Steve and I initially got into drinking craft beer, but it’s become sort of a hobby for us. We’ve been lucky enough to visit a ton of breweries around the state, as well as a few in other places.

Recently we went to Family Business Brewing Company in Dripping Springs, which is co-owned by Jensen and Danneel Ackles. The name is a nod to “Supernatural” – “Saving people, hunting things…the family business.” 😀

 

Their IPA, Cosmic Cowboy, was so good! I’m not into this craft beer stuff enough to know all the ins and outs about every different style, but I do know what I like and I am definitely an IPA fan. The hoppier and more bitter, the better IMO.

The day after the Family Business tour, we did a 5K at the Rentsch Brewery in Georgetown, and their beers were really good, too. (This is the Double Dry-Hopped IPA, which was pretty amazing). The race was fun — nice weather for it!

rentsch beer

Pic by Steve

 

6) Concerts with my husband

There was a time in my twenties when I remember being really burned out on going to concerts. I’m not sure why, but they just didn’t hold much appeal for me anymore. Then Steve and I started going to more and more live shows again, and now I love them.

John 5

Last month we went to see John 5…and I took this blurry photo of him.

We’ve been lucky enough to see tons of bands perform over the years. This past week we saw Mastodon. They’re hugely talented and put on a fantastic show. This was especially cool because we’d made plans to see them twice before and both of those shows had ended up being canceled. They said they hadn’t played here in two years! So, yeah…it was great to finally catch them again.

Mastodon

Much better pic of Mastodon by Steve

Okay, I think that’s all I’ve got for now. I hope you all have a fabulous weekend!!

XOXO,

Elizabeth

 

Advertisements

Friday Favorites – 03232018

When I made my last ‘Friday Favorites’ post, I hope I didn’t give the impression it would be a weekly feature here on the blog. Because it clearly hasn’t been. Because I am the world’s laziest blogger :/.

I’ve tried to figure out why this is (the blog-related laziness, I mean), but I still don’t know what my problem is. I guess most of the time I just prefer to spend my writing time on whatever piece of fiction I’m working on at the moment. What can I say? It’s more fun to spend time in fantasy-land than to re-cap reality :).

Nevertheless, here’s a short list for this week (as before, in no particular order):

1) Skillet Lasagna

I found this recipe on Pinterest years ago, and have since made it, oh, about a hundred times, give or take.

Skillet Lasagna.jpg

I like lasagna, but it can be kind of time-consuming to make, what with all the layering and then waiting for it to bake all the way through and what-have-you. With this recipe, you basically just cook the lasagna in a big skillet on the stove, which is much faster. Including prep, it only takes about half an hour. Very easy — and very delicious!

Because I don’t have an oven-proof skillet, I cook my lasagna on the stove-top and then transfer it to an oven-proof dish before completing the last step, which is to stick it under the broiler to melt and brown the cheese. If you have an oven-proof skillet, this recipe will be even easier for you, because you will be able to just pop the whole thing under the broiler and then serve it straight out of the skillet!

Regardless of the extra step I have to take, though, this is still an incredibly easy dish for me to put together, and it turns out great every time. It tastes so good and looks so pretty, it’s perfect for when you have guests over, or for a special occasion. Just serve it with a salad and some bread and maybe wine, if you’re into that. In fact, this is what Steve and I ate on Valentine’s Day this year!

Roses 02_2018

Roses someone sweet sent me for Valentine’s Day ;).

Btw, since I’m vegetarian, I obviously don’t use the ground beef called for in the recipe :). I usually use soy crumbles (like Boca or Morningstar Farms), but I have also omitted them altogether before, and just made cheese lasagna. You could probably add some spinach and other finely chopped vegetables to this, to make it a veggie version, but I’ve never tried that.

2) Lightly dried basil

This one sort of ties into the last one, since that recipe calls for fresh basil.

pexels-photo-95214.jpeg

I don’t use fresh basil all that much, so when I need it, I usually just buy one of those little pre-portioned cellophane packages from the produce section at the grocery store. Yes, they’re expensive, but if I only need fresh basil every once in a while, and we eat all of it when I buy it, I don’t think it’s too big a deal to purchase it this way.

However, I recently saw this at my grocery store, and gave it a try: Gourmet Garden “lightly dried” basil.

The 0.42 oz package contains “a large bunch of roughly chopped organic basil, lightly dried (just enough) to last for 4 weeks once open.” One TBSP of lightly dried basil equals one TBSP of fresh. When added to foods, it “refreshes during cooking,” and tastes more like fresh basil than dried.

This is cool for a couple of reasons, namely that it costs a lot less than those pre-portioned packages, and it lasts a lot longer. Once you open the container, you’ve got a month to figure out how to use up the rest of it. I like to add it to pasta sauces and sprinkle it on pizza, in addition to finding other recipes that call for fresh basil (here’s another one I like — Chicken Parmesan Bake).

Someday maybe I’ll get around to cultivating a fresh herb garden, but until that happens, this is a useful alternative for me :).

3) Meal Planning

Okay, so I don’t actually enjoy planning meals all that much. But I do enjoy the results, which are: a quicker trip to the grocery store, a lower bill when I check out, and of course a week’s worth of meals, which keeps me from having to scratch my head over what we’re going to have for dinner every day.

pexels-photo-269451.jpeg

I know there are a lot of posts about how to meal plan out there, but FWIW, here’s how I do it:

  • First I look in my kitchen cabinets and fridge, to see what I’ve already got on hand. I’m looking for things we need to use up soon, and/or that might help spur some recipe ideas.
  • I also look through the weekly HEB ad that comes in the mail. I don’t shop at multiple grocery stores. It’s possible I would save some money if I did, but honestly, HEB has pretty low prices all the time, and they always offer in-store coupons for free and discounted items. Plus, the store is VERY close to where I live, so I save a lot of time by just running over there and coming right back once a week, rather than going all over town to try and find deals. Saving money is definitely important to me, but so is saving time! (And BTW, no, I don’t work for HEB. I’m just a big fan :)).
  • Lastly, I look at recipes I’ve saved on Pinterest, or my meal planning database, to see what meals I might be able to make combining what I’ve got on hand and what’s on sale at HEB. What’s a meal planning database, you might ask? Well, it’s a handy-dandy spreadsheet Steve made for me, that lists all the dishes I like to make on a regular basis. They’re organized by protein (fake chicken, fake beef, tofu, beans, etc.) and by style (Italian, Mexican, etc.), and there’s a pivot table that allows me to filter the information accordingly. Yeah, I know, it’s the nerdiest thing ever, but it’s really helpful, particularly when I go to make the grocery list, my mind goes blank, and I can’t seem to think of anything to cook that week.

I try to keep our meals varied throughout the week, so that we don’t end up eating all pasta dishes or whatever. Usually, I make one Italian-inspired dish, one Mexican-inspired, and so on, and I usually try for at least one vegan meal, as well. Fridays are almost always pizza nights. We used to order out but then I learned how to make my own. Steve and I both like mine just fine, so this is what we eat now. It took me a few tries to get the hang of working with the dough, but I’ve now made so many pizzas, I could probably do it in my sleep ;).

4) Star Wars comics

Okay, switching gears a little bit…I recently caught up on a bunch of digital issues of Marvel’s currently ongoing Star Wars comic that Steve and I had amassed, and I have to say, this title is so good!

Star_Wars_Marvel_2015_John_Cassaday_Special_Edition

I’ve read up through issue #44, I think, and pretty much every story has been great, or at least entertaining. I think the writers have done an awesome job capturing the personalities of the original characters, and so much of the art work is great, too!

We’re no longer subscribed to the title (because we’d fallen so far behind on reading them, we decided to just quit for a while and give ourselves a chance to catch up) so it’ll be a while before I read any more of them. But assuming they remain this fun to read, I’m sure I’ll continue buying and reading the collections as they come out!

5) X-Files Season 11

Is it just me, or has this current season been really great? Like, way better than the last one?

the-x-files-creator-chris-carter-interview-720x720

Like I’ve mentioned before, I don’t really watch much TV anymore, but The X-Files is my all-time favorite show, so of course I’ve been watching the newest episodes! I think they’ve been pretty wonderful so far, and it’s kind of sad to me that the latest one to air might be the last one ever.

I love Mulder and Scully’s dynamic this time around. They are behaving a lot closer to the way I imagine they would at this point, after so many years of working together and being best friends (and sometimes more). Scully’s a lot more relaxed and confident, no longer badgering Mulder over every little thing, but instead just trusting his instincts and accepting his quirks. For his part, Mulder seems a lot more…tired. Lol. But after everything he’s been through, it totally makes sense. He seems more relaxed and comfortable in his own skin, too, not as obsessed and intense as he used to be. In short, they both seem grown up and wise, but still pretty bad-ass when it comes to stopping bad guys.

Also, since I have shipped Mulder and Scully f-o-r-e-v-e-r (are they my OTP? Quite possibly), I’m super pleased with where that aspect of their relationship has sometimes gone this time around.

tumblr_p2i3ovVFoR1r5shc9o1_500

Episode 3, I’m referring to you.*

So sad to see this end! But then again, for ages I didn’t think there would ever be any more episodes at all, so I’ve already gotten way more than I bargained for. Thanks, Chris Carter and company, for making more for us die-hard X-philes!

Okay y’all, that’s all I’ve got to ramble about this time. Hope you have a magnificent weekend!

Love,

signature-350x126

*GIF found on youreadarkwizard.tumblr.com

Two birds with one (Silver)stone.

DSCF3557

My quest to read through my TBR pile continues!

I’ve had The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone since 2010 and while I had skimmed it before, I had never read it all the way through. I think I was intimidated by it. At first glance the recipes just seemed a little too hardcore for me. So I stuck the book on a shelf and just sort of ignored it for…oh, five years.

One of my New Year’s resolutions this year, however, was to read a book about veganism and since I already had this one, I decided to give it a fair shot. I’m glad I did! It was a good read, very informative and inspiring. While I am still not ready to commit to becoming a full-on vegan, I feel like I can at least try to eat that way a lot more of the time.

So far I have tried two of Alicia’s recipes: Sweet Potato-Lentil Stew (page 166) and Sicilian Collard Greens with Raisins and Pine Nuts (page 176). I liked them both, although the stew recipe made a TON. I ate left-overs for days and still wasn’t able to finish it all :(. So yeah, I will make it again some time but probably only half the recipe. The photo above shows some of the leftovers served over brown rice. This was my first time cooking collards and I have to say they were pretty tasty!

Now I can cross a resolution off my list AND knock another title off my TBR pile. Win-win!

Speaking of the TBR pile…I’ve made some decent progress since first posting about my (crazy) dream of getting down to five TBR*:

  • May was not such a great month — I bought 10 books. BUT — I read 5 of them right away (as well as 3 others that I already had).
  • In June I bought 2 books and read one right away (as well as 4 older ones and one of the 5 new purchases I’d had left over from the end of May).
  • In July I’ve bought 6 books (2 of which I’m not counting as TBRs because I have already read them before and only bought them because the e-book editions were super cheap and I wanted to have them). Of the remaining, I read 1 and just started another. So that leaves 2 additions to the TBR pile this month. BUT I also read 6 more titles from my TBR pile!

*Bottom line:  I’ve bought approximately 38 books this year and read 52. Not great, but at least the numbers are moving in the right direction :). And yes, I realize that this (having too many books to read) is a pretty cushy “problem” to have. I’m not really complaining, just trying to remind myself to use and appreciate what I already have, and to be intentional about how and what I buy in the future!

Easy Eggplant Parmesan

I’ve learned that eggplant is officially “in season” July through October. Well, in season or not, I managed to find a couple of nice ones at my grocery store the other week.

EggplantsI made Eggplant Parmesan, which my husband reminded me was one of the very first meals I ever cooked for him back when we were dating. So I guess you could say it is one of the dishes I used to win him over ;). Ha.

I originally got this recipe from a television program where a camera crew would show up at a regular person’s house and film them making their “signature dish.” It was on Food Network and I don’t remember the name of the show! But I’ve tweaked this recipe so much over the past 15 years or so, I feel safe calling it my own at this point, anyway.

After washing and slicing the eggplant (I used about 1.75 lb.s here), dredge it in an egg/milk mixture and some bread crumbs. The easiest way I have found to do this is to put the egg mixture in one pie plate and the breadcrumbs in another right beside it. Dip each slice of eggplant in one dish and then the next, and then lay it on the baking sheet. Sometimes I use preseasoned Italian breadcrumbs such as those pictured here, other times I mix plain whole wheat crumbs with Italian seasoning. Either one works.

Eggplant Parmesan 1Arrange the coated eggplant slices on a baking sheet (here, I put parchment paper over mine — also, I needed two baking sheets to accommodate all the eggplant!) and drizzle each slice with a little olive oil. This step makes the crumb coating crisp up nicely in the oven, so I don’t recommend skipping it! Just dip a spoon in some oil and sprinkle it on.

Bake the eggplant in a 400 F degree oven for 15 minutes, then use tongs to flip all the slices, drizzle with olive oil and bake for another 15 minutes. They should be browned and crispy on both sides. In the meantime, heat 6 oz. tomato paste, 6 oz. water, and 8 oz. tomato sauce in a saucepan. Add whatever Italian seasonings you prefer (I’ll list my favorites at the bottom of this post) and simmer for about 30 minutes, while the eggplant is cooking.

When the eggplant is done, arrange the browned slices in a baking dish. Spoon the sauce over each slice and cover with Mozzarella and a bit of Parmesan cheese. Here, I used a mixture of thinly sliced and shredded Mozzarella, because that is what I had in the fridge!

Bake the completed casserole at 400 F for 10 – 12 minutes, just until the cheese starts to brown. Don’t leave it in too long; you don’t want your eggplant to get soggy!

Eggplant Parmesan 2I served this with a salad, tossed with a homemade Italian salad dressing that has become a favorite of mine.

Eggplant Parmesan 3So easy and delicious!

RECIPE:

1 1/2 – 2 pounds eggplant, washed and sliced 1/2″ thick

1 egg, beaten with 2 Tbsp. milk

Italian seasoned breadcrumbs

olive oil

6 oz. tomato paste

6 oz. water

8 oz. tomato sauce

1/4 tsp. Italian seasoning

1/4 tsp. oregano

1 minced garlic clove

dash of onion powder

salt & pepper to taste

1 cup (or more, depending on your taste) shredded or sliced Mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup (or more) shredded Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Dip eggplant slices into the egg mixture and then into the breadcrumbs, coating both sides well. Grease a baking sheet with cooking spray or line with parchment. Arrange each slice of coated eggplant in one layer on baking sheet and drizzle each piece with olive oil. Bake for 15 minutes. Check that slices are golden brown. Turn and bake for another 15 minutes.

In the meantime, dilute tomato paste and sauce with water in a medium saucepan. Add seasonings, cover and simmer on low for about 30 minutes, while eggplant is browning.

When the eggplant is browned, arrange the slices in a 13″ x 9″ baking dish. Spread sauce over each slice. Top with Mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Bake assembled casserole for 10 – 12 minutes, just until the cheese starts to brown. Serve hot!

Bon appetit!

Elizabeth

Mediterranean Nachos

We eat nachos pretty often in this household.

Recently, I was putting corn chips away in a cabinet and noticed the pita chips sitting there, and got to thinking…what if I made “Mediterranean Nachos” by subbing pitas for corn chips? What if I used hummus instead of refried beans? Kalamata olives instead of black olives, spinach instead of lettuce, etc., etc…you get what I’m saying :).

When I mentioned this idea to S, he suggested using crumbled falafel instead of the veggie “ground beef” crumbles we usually use, and tzatziki instead of sour cream. I almost couldn’t wait for the weekend to come so I could try it.

IMG_3200

DSCF3428

For the falafel, I used a mix. I just dropped spoonfuls of it onto parchment paper and baked it for 20 minutes, stirring once halfway through.

DSCF3431

Then I crumbled it onto the nachos and topped them with everything else.

IMG_3201

Obviously this is not a unique idea (google “Greek Nachos” and you’ll see what I mean) but it was new to me! And it was quick, easy and delicious. I’ll definitely make it again.

Creamy Sausage and Spinach Pasta Skillet

I hadn’t planned to post about this meal but when I opened up the container to eat the left-overs (last week), I thought it looked kind of pretty, even the next day. So I took some pictures. And here they are :).

DSCF3426

DSCF3427

This is an adapted version of a recipe found on The Comfort of Cooking.

To make it veggie, instead of sausage I used Tofurky Kielbasa (I like to fry this up in a separate pan and then add it to the rest of the dish at the last minute, otherwise it gets a bit soggy), and I substituted vegetable broth for the chicken broth. The only diced tomatoes I had on hand were Italian seasoned, so I used those (and I think I liked it better than when I’ve used plain ones in the recipe before, actually!). Instead of the jalapenos, I added a dash of crushed red pepper flakes. I originally served this with more steamed vegetables on the side. The bread was from a Central Market Organic Multigrain loaf I picked up at HEB.

Asian “Beef” With Mushrooms and Snow Peas

Here’s a super-quick, super-easy, delicious meal  I like to make on busy days. Or when I’m feeling lazy :).

Note:  You can speed this up even more by preparing your sauce and veggies ahead of time and by using one of the greatest inventions ever, instant rice. I usually serve mine with egg rolls. And of course I also made this vegetarian by using Gardein Beefless Tips.

IMG_2994(1)

ASIAN BEEF WITH MUSHROOMS AND SNOW PEAS*

Ingredients:

3 Tbs. soy sauce

2 Tbs. rice wine vinegar

1 Tbs. brown sugar

1 tsp. corn starch

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

1 Tbsp. chopped ginger from a jar

1 Tbsp. minced garlic

1 pkg. Gardein Beefless Tips

8 oz. snow peas (I cut mine in half to make them easier to eat)

8 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced

Directions:

1. In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, brown sugar and corn starch. Set aside.

2. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir-fry ginger and garlic for 30 seconds. Add the Beefless Tips and brown for 2-3  minutes on each side. Add the vegetables and stir-fry for an additional 3 minutes. Add the soy sauce mixture; bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until the sauce thickens, about 1 minute. Serve over rice or noodles.

*Adapted from allrecipes.com

Preliminary results of my diet “experiment”

So last week I decided not to eat any dairy for 4 1/2 days, while S was away on a business trip. I ate a lot of the same things over and over (nothing new for me — I tend to get hooked on things and end up repeating them pretty often :)).

I had oatmeal with almond milk and fruit for breakfast almost every day, and a hummus sandwich for lunch. Snacks were fruit and/or nuts. Dinner was leftovers or a big salad, plus one night I made half a batch of one of my favorite vegan dishes, Pineapple Not-so-Fried Rice.

tofu rice cropped

Look at all that raisin, cashew, tofu and pineapple deliciousness (also, I used brown rice instead of white). I could eat this for days. Which is good, because even half a batch of this stuff makes quite a bit! S and I had the leftovers over the weekend and I finished them up at lunch today.

When S returned from his trip, we had homemade Margherita pizza (with mozzarella cheese) for dinner :). But over the weekend, I continued to limit the dairy and now, 8 days later I have to say I feel pretty good! I don’t know how to describe it other than to say I feel “lighter.” Not as…puffy, I guess? I wasn’t so much trying to lose weight, though, as I was just trying to gauge how differently, if at all, I felt by not eating dairy. Because it seems as though people who cut dairy out of their diets always say they feel “great” afterward. And darn it, I want to feel great, too :)!

I have vegan dinners planned for the next 3 nights as well, so I’m going to continue on this track for now and see what happens…just in time to ruin it all by eating Christmas cookies next week, I’m sure. But, hey I think this might still be a good habit for me to carry into the new year!

My Thanksgiving re-cap and plan

Place settingI hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving :).

Ours was nice. My father-in-law came to visit us for a few days. On the morning of the holiday, S and I participated in a 5-mile Turkey Trot and then afterward, I finished preparing dinner. Here’s what we ate:

Ultimate Dinner Rolls

This year, I only made one pie instead of two and I started making preparations two days ahead of time instead of only one. I suppose these changes made a difference, because this was probably the “easiest” time I’ve ever had cooking the T-Day meal! I felt far less rushed than usual and I loved that. So I’m going to record the “plan” I used here, so I won’t forget it and can hopefully recreate it in the future :).

Tuesday, I —

  • baked a pan of cornbread for the dressing
  • made pie crust dough and refrigerated it
  • got out all my serving dishes, utensils, etc. and made sure everything was clean and ready to go

Serving dishes and utensils

Wednesday, I —

  • transferred the Tofurky Roasts (I make two because they’re so small and I like leftovers) from the freezer to the fridge to thaw
  • made the pumpkin pie filling, rolled out my pie crust, and baked the pie (and for the first time ever, instead of using pieces of foil, I used this doohickey* I recently bought to prevent the crust from burning; it worked perfectly and I was very pleased with the results)
  • made the dough for my rolls, shaped them, covered them with plastic, and put them into the fridge
  • opened a can of cranberry sauce and put it in its serving dish in the fridge
  • crumbled the cornbread and mixed it with the rest of my dry dressing ingredients. I stored this in my largest Pyrex mixing bowl and covered it with its matching lid so it was all ready to go the next day.

Garlic Parmesan Roasted Broccoli

Thursday, I —

  • peeled and cut potatoes, put them in water and stored them in the fridge in another covered Pyrex mixing bowl (side note:  I’m not a Pyrex rep or anything. It’s just that I got these bowls as a birthday gift last year and I love them. I use them for everything, ALL the time!)
  • washed and cut broccoli, put it in casserole dishes, and topped it with the olive oil and seasonings; stored it in the fridge
  • put the Tofurky Roasts in a roasting pan, basted them, and put them into the oven to cook
  • took the rolls out of the fridge and let them rise on the counter; brushed them with butter
  • cooked onion and celery and mixed them with the other wet ingredients for the dressing, added them to the dry ingredients and put the dressing into baking dishes
  • put the dressing into the oven when the Tofurky was partway done
  • put the broccoli into the oven
  • boiled and mashed the potatoes
  • heated the gravy on the stove
  • cooked the carrots and baked the rolls (since these both only took 15 minutes)

And voila! That was it. Probably the only thing I would do differently is cut the broccoli, and possibly the potatoes, on Wednesday instead of Thursday.

Like I said, though, this was overall the easiest Thanksgiving meal I’ve ever made and I feel like the pre-planning I did helped. I literally wrote out all the steps I needed to take ahead of time and then checked them off as I went. So even though on Thanksgiving Day, my garbage disposal decided to back up and spray gunk several feet into the air (and my husband very kindly came in and fixed it for me), it didn’t throw a huge wrench into my day or anything ;).

However, what I apparently didn’t remember to do, was take photos of most of the food! We didn’t get any of the Tofurky or the pie before it was cut :(. S did manage a shot of one slice with his phone before it disappeared, though…

IMG_2805

Now I suppose the Christmas planning can begin…? 🙂

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Choosing my T-Day recipes (+ a reading update).

It’s lunchtime and I’m reading my book and polishing off last night’s leftovers.

Still reading Dracula. Last night was a “reading night” here (as in an evening when S and I read books instead of watching a movie) so I was able to make a good dent.

DSCF2889

Yay, progress! (I really do like this book, I promise; I’m just slow.)

As for the food — I am accentuating my Tofurky sandwich with what remains of this recipe I tried last night for Garlic Parmesan Roasted Brussels Sprouts.

DSCF2888

This was all that was left, so I guess you could say the sprouts went over pretty well :).

I’m still on the fence about making them for T-Day, though. I keep thinking the garlic Parmesan topping would work just as well with broccoli, and I love broccoli (as opposed to just being friends with Brussels sprouts), so I may use that instead.

I WILL be making these Ultimate Dinner Rolls that I tried a couple of weeks ago, though. They were easy and turned out really well! This will be my first Thanksgiving making rolls from scratch. I usually use frozen ones. Here is a tutorial for how to make them:

This nice lady (Tessa at Handle the Heat) seems to have a LOT of helpful videos on her site, actually. This morning I watched this one about making pie crusts.

I have gotten pretty good at making pie crusts over the years (if I do say so myself), however I still picked up some tips here!

I’ve mentioned before that I was not a domestic diva growing up. My mom claims this is because I “never wanted to learn anything.” To which I say, what kid DOES want to learn anything useful? When the choice is between chores or watching TV in your room, I don’t think I’m the only child who would have picked TV (please tell me I’m not the only one). So parents who know how to do cool homemaking stuff, please do me a favor and force your kids to learn those skills, too! Otherwise they will end up clueless like me. When I first moved out I had to try and pick up things from Food Network, HGTV and books. Now it’s the internet, of course.

But this is why I am so grateful to people who post tutorials and instructions online. They really help out “stragglers” like me.

Thankful,
Elizabeth