The pressure is on now, Thanksgiving is happening this week, whether we are ready or not. So let's go ahead and be ready. We are excited to welcome our family to our first Thanksgiving in our new home. We are keeping the menu traditional and somewhat simple so that we can focus on some fun details and on our company. We will have a total of 1 vegetarian, 6 adult turkey-eaters and 1 kid turkey-eater. Here's what we have planned...
My friends gave me the opportunity to do a dry run of a turkey dinner earlier in the year
, so I am feeling good going into my first Thanksgiving hosting experience. Worrying is controlled because I have a plan. I asked my guests to bring some items and I will have jobs for them to do in the kitchen to keep things on schedule for Thursday's dinner. With only a few days to go before the big day, here are some tips from my home to yours.
1. Set It Up
Give your table setting a dry run to make sure that you have enough plates, serving dishes, napkins, utensils, and glasses. It may seem unnecessary, but it easy to over-estimate what you have on hand.
2. Plan for Surprises
There's no need to cook more than you need -- but it is best to have enough for one or two more in case of surprise guests.
Make sure you have a few extra place settings too.
3. Get Brewing
Set up the coffee maker before you sit down to dinner so that you can have hot coffee ready as soon as you hit your dessert course.
4. Brown Paper Packages
Before your dishes move from the kitchen to the table, be prepared for them to return to the kitchen. Try to clean up prep space as you work. Then, lay out the leftover packing supplies. If you have guests heading on their way after dinner, wrap up a serving or two for them to take home.
5. Be Thankful
Sometimes in the hustle and bustle of burning rolls and mixed up seating arrangements, we can forget to be thankful. Or the family sits down at the table and plays and awkward game of who's going to say the blessing. No need to put anyone on the spot, prepare a prayer or poem card for each of you guests that the group can recite together.
I cannot think of a year that I had more to be thankful for. I wish you all the happiest of Thanksgivings and look forward to seeing how you will be celebrating this year (Instagram @themostcolorfulone
). HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
Thanksgiving is right around the corner which is making it difficult for me to focus on nightly meals. The Great Chili Cook Off is keeping me on track and building leftovers into our daily lunches. Next week may be tough to keep up with you around here, so check back this week for Thanksgiving planning tips and ideas.
We had to get a vegetarian chili into the competition, so chili #2 was a vegetarian quinoa chili. Really easy, so let's just dive right into this recipe adapted from Damn Delicious.
Here's what you'll need...
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons garlic, minced
1 sweet onion, diced
2 cups cooked quinoa
2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes undrained
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (4.5-ounce) can diced green chiles
1-1/2 tablespoons chili powder, or more, to taste
2 teaspoons cumin
1-1/2 teaspoons paprika
1-1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1-1/2 cups corn kernels
Juice of 1 lime
1 avocado, halved, seeded, peeled and diced
Let's get started...
1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add garlic and onion, stir until onions have become translucent, about 2-3 minutes.
2. Stir in quinoa, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, green chiles, corn, beans, chili powder, cumin, paprika, sugar, cayenne pepper, and coriander.
3. Reduce heat to low; simmer, covered, until thickened, about 30 minutes.
4. Serve with avocado, cheese, sour cream, and lime.
This recipe has more heat than the first and has already secured the lead over the Pumpkin Chicken Chili. My meat-eating husband was happy with the meat-free recipe and thought the quinoa added enough depth to the chili to make up for any missing protein. The meat will be back in the next contender -- Turkey Apple Chili.
Fall has arrived full force with wintry winds. There are few means to warm up better than a bowlful of chili. We enjoyed this recipe with cornbread as trick-or-treaters braved a blustery and rainy Halloween evening. As the first recipe of this seasons Great Chili Cook Off, we tried a Pumpkin Chicken Chili recipe from Your Home Based Mom
This recipe can simmer all day in the crockpot or made stovetop in 30 to 40 minutes.
Here's what you'll need...
1 small onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
4 tablespoons minced garlic
1-1/2 pounds ground chicken
2 15-oz. cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 15-oz. can pure pumpkin
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1-1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 15-oz. can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 15-oz. can white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
Let's get started...
1. Cook chicken over medium high heat until browned to a safe temperature. Set aside.
2. Toss onions, garlic, and peppers with olive oil and salt and pepper over high heat. Stir until peppers are softened and onions are transparent.
3. Add tomatoes, broth, and pumpkin to peppers and onions. Stir in spices.
4. Mix in all other ingredients. Reduce to medium heat.
5. Simmer until ready to serve.
We enjoyed the chili but did not taste the pumpkin at all. Although it did help to thicken the stew. We would advise to add a second or even third can of pumpkin to have the flavor come through.
As you surf through Pinterest stocking up on Thanksgiving and holiday ideas, don't forget to stop by and offer up ideas for other chilis.
On my way home from work today, I was physically wanting for Christmas music. It was like my brain was going to explode with all the excitement of knowing that we are just a few weeks away from the most wonderful time of the year.
In an effort to calm the heck down, I reminded myself of all the fall there is left to enjoy. And what better way than to fill our home with the warmth of five new chili recipes in our Second Annual Great Chili Cookoff?
To get inspired we started by whetting our appetites with last year's winner, Chili Mac N' Cheese.
Delicious. Before we get to posting new chili ideas, we invite you to revisit some of last year's recipes on your own:Butternut Squash Vegetarian ChiliBuffalo Chicken Chili3 Bean Vegetarian ChiliChicken + Sausage White Bean Chili
I'll let you in on a little secret -- we are already two weeks into eating this season's chili contenders and enjoying the journey. So far we have tried...
Pumpkin Chicken Chili
Quinoa Vegetarian Chili
Apple Turkey Chili
Chili Polenta Pot Pie
But then what...I am looking for some recipes that you are interested in -- have you seen recipe ideas that you aren't bold enough to try? Pawn them off to me and we will give them a whirl in the Most Colorful One test kitchen. Seriously, let's see what you've got.
It is fall and according to the internet we are supposed to be eating lots of pumpkin. In any shape or form -- pumpkin. I agree. I could only agreed more when I came across Shutterbean's Pumpkin Pecan Ice Cream Sandwiches
. What!? Yes, pumpkin ice cream sandwiches with sugary gingerbread slices.
Before your eyes drown in the goodness that is a pumpkin ice cream sandwich -- I want to share with you some upcoming news. Because of all the fun we had with the Great Chili Cook Off
last winter, we are bringing it back with the Second Annual Great Chili Cook Off. We will be kicking it off with a pumpkin chicken chili next week.
Back to business. Ice cream.
Here's what you'll need...
for the pecan pumpkin ice cream:
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons salted butter
1/8 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 pints (1 quart) pumpkin ice cream
for the cookie layer:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon molasses
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Let's get started...
1. Melt butter and sugar over medium high heat. Add pecans, cinnamon and salt. Stir until the pecans are well coated. Set aside.
2. Let ice cream out at room temperature so that it can be easily scooped and stirred into a large bowl.
3. Add pecan mixture and blend thoroughly. Cover with plastic wrap and return to the freezer.
4. Line your 8x8 glass or metal dish with parchment paper, hanging over the edges for easy removal later. And preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
5. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, and salt.
6. In a separate bowl, beat together butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add egg, molasses and vanilla.
7. Carefully add the flour mixture to the butter blend until batter is even.
8. Spread half the batter in each of your baking dishes (or preserve half of the batter for a second baking round).
9. Bake for 12 minutes -- until browned and tender.
10. Cool completely.
11. Spoon all ice cream onto the first sandwich layer. Top with second layer.
12. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 5 hours.
13. Transfer to a cutting surface and slice into pieces as desired.
EAT! Add this to your Thanksgiving to do list. And don't forget to stop by next week for the start to the Great Chili Cook Off.
There are weekends that we want to get out and do some exploring, but often we don't want to go too far so we end up exploring the same parks, museums and neighborhoods around our area. We have found that adding some friendly competition to our weekend afternoon outings can add some intrigue to a place we may have visited once or ten times before. Our friendly competition comes in the form of photography. If you think that this is too dorky for for anyone's good, head to the recipe index to revisit some photos of my mouthwatering apple carrot cake
. Otherwise keep scrolling and find out who won our most recent photo contest.
Last week we took on a few vantage points in downtown Pittsburgh as well as a pit stop on the Great Allegheny Passage. Note, that neither of us have any education in how to use a camera -- no shame. And, yes, you can totally do this with a camera fun. Here's how it goes [for us]...
At each location, participants get the opportunity to take 10 photos. Pictures can be landscapes, details, interesting people shots or whatever you are interested in capturing. We are usually thinking about what we could frame and throw up on a wall somewhere in our house.
- Whoever is not driving between locations or when heading home gets to sort through the whole lot and assume his fate as the winner or loser.
- Decide how the winner will be determined -- will it be up to the participants to take a vote or will it be up to your friends on Facebook (yeah, take it there).
- Each participant selects 3 to 5 photos to put in the running.
- Make them big -- scroll through the selected photos on a computer screen or hook them up to a television screen. Work your way through until you have a winner.
- GLOAT about your great photography skills and your ability to really capture the essence of that blade of grass or architectural element.
This is what we came up with, but I won't tell you which ones or mine. Michael says the day ended in a beautiful tie. Let us know what you think -- I know you'll make the right choice.
The whole lemon squares idea began this weekend when Michael exclaimed that he wanted those tea lemon bars that Kim
made for us a few months ago. And as soon as he said it, I was hungry for them too. I used a recipe slightly adapted from the Gingered Whisk
to get started.
These are simple to put together -- just remember they will need some time to cool before serving. They are tart with a sweet crust and could compliment other desserts instead of overpowering like other lemon recipes often do.
Enough chitchat though, you need to get working on these.
Here's what you'll need...
For the crust:
1 1/4 cup flour
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 Earl Grey tea bag
1/8 tsp salt
8 TBSP chilled butter, cut into pieces
For the filling:
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 Earl Grey tea bag
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp lemon zest
1 tbsp powdered sugar
Let's get started...
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8x8 glass or metal baking dish with greased parchment paper that hags over the edges about 2 inches.
2. Start by preparing the crust. Combine flour, sugar, tea leaves from bag, and salt. Add butter and mix with your hands until the mixture is in crumbled pieces.
3. Press crumbled pieces into baking dish. Bake for about 20 minutes, until lightly browned.
4. While the crust is baking, start working on the filling. Heat lemon juice in the microwave on high for 30 seconds.
5. Mix tea leaves from bag in the lemon juice, cover, and steep for about 10 minutes.
6. Separately, combine flour, sugar, and baking powder.
7. Add eggs and zest to the lemon juice.
8. Whisk wet ingredients to flour, sugar, and baking powder until well blended.
9. Pour filling over baked crust. Bake for 25 minutes or until filling is set.
10. Cool on wire rack.
11. Sift powdered sugar over lemon squares and serve.
Then go play some Scrabble and eat some more squares. Enjoy.
Fall really caught up to us all of sudden. We are just getting back from a walk in the brisk fall air -- even though two days ago I was in shorts in the yard. Anyway, with autumn upon us, my mind is racing toward the holidays and lots of warm recipes for sharing.
Pot pies were never on our regular dinner rotation when I was growing up. Probably because my mom did not want to put in the effort knowing that at least two out of three kids would complain about the vegetables, mushy crust at the bottom, or anything they could come up with, really. I definitely cannot blame her. After all, as one of the two picky eaters, I didn't really want to go through the whole whining and punishing charade at the table either. But now, I use onions, squash, mushrooms and so many other things that would have required a stern talk to convince me to swallow in my younger years. So pot pies are just making their way onto my recipe repertoire now -- and for starters I am only putting things in them that my 7-year-old self would approve of -- I don't want to get carried away here. First up, apple pulled pork pot pies, an original recipe.
I am still floating on my creative cloud with this one I am too afraid to search for others' renditions -- so don't tell me if this only a new to me kind of recipe. I started looking into apple dumplings when I came up with the idea to combine sweet fall recipe with a classic dinner entrée. Here's what you'll need...
~2 lb pork roast
2 cups applesauce
1 tbsp Penzey's Bavarian Seasoning
1/2 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
2 pie crusts
2 Granny Smith apples
1 box Panni Bavarian Dumpling Mix
2 eggsLet's get started...
1. Blend your seasoning mix well into the applesauce.
2. With clean cooking shears, make a few cuts into the pork roast to help it cook more quickly and be filled with moist flavor.
3. Pour the applesauce mixture over the pork and cook in a crockpot on high (about 4 hours) or in the oven (about 1.25 hours) until the meat has reached a safe temperature of 160 degrees.
4. While the meat cooks, prepare your pie crusts and other filling ingredients. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Roll out the pie crusts on a cutting surface. Trace your individual baking dishes with a knife to create eight circles (the top and bottom crusts). Set aside.
5. Prepare the dumpling mix as directed, while bringing a pot of salted water to a boil. Roll and cook the dumplings as directed. Drain and set aside to cool.
6. Line the backing dishes with your bottom crusts and lightly wash with egg.
7. Set all backing dishes on a cookie sheet or pizza pan. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes or until the crusts begin to brown.
8. Remove the pork from its cooking pan to cool for 10 to 15 minutes. Preserve extra juice for gravy.
9. Peel and grate your apples.
10. Cut dumplings into bite size chunks.
12. With a fork and knife, or carefully with clean hands, pull pork apart into a mixing bowl.
13. Combine apple and dumplings with pulled pork pieces.
14. Fill each baking dish with a healthy serving of filling to create your pot pie hump. Add a ladle-full of preserve gravy to each pot pie.
15. Make 4 slices into the center of the top crusts and place over each pie. Brush tops with egg wash.
16. Bake at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes or until crusts are golden.
17. Reheat gravy and serve pies with a vegetable side. Shown with steamed carrots and walnuts with brown sugar and cinnamon.
These pies are sweet with gooey potato-y bites -- delicious -- without any mushy bottom crusts. My 7-year-old self would be in elbow deep and my 24-year-old self had to restrain the desire.
I am thinking this recipe will be adaptable for Thanksgiving leftovers -- perhaps apple cranberry turkey pot pies. Stay tuned.
And then it was fall. And fall brings hankerings for warm and sweet treats. And I think that this weekend I made the most delicious dessert that I have ever baked-- apple carrot cake.
Let's break this down -- we are getting fruits and vegetables in a cake and we can frost it as a stylistic mess to resemble a fall caramel apple. Perfection.
Based on a recipe from Southern Living
.Here's what you'll need...
2 1/2 cups chopped pecans, divided
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp apple pie spice
1/2 tsp salt
3 large eggs, beaten
2 cups sugar
3/4 vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 peeled and grated Granny Smith apples
1 1/2 cups grated carrots
Apple Caramel Frosting
Cream Cheese FrostingLet's get started...
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans.
2. Spread half of the pecans evenly in the bottom of each pan.
3. Sift together flour, apple pie spice, salt, baking soda, and sugar.
4. Beat together eggs, oil, butter milk, and vanilla.
5. Add wet ingredients to flour mixture. Fold in apples and carrots. Stir until well blended.
6. Pour batter evenly into pans. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a fork inserted in the middle comes out clean.
7. Cool cakes completely.
8. Place one cake layer, pecan side down, on a serving plate. Spread apple caramel frosting on first layer.
9. Place second layer, pecan side down, atop first layer. Spread cream cheese frosting and allow excess to ooze down sides of cake. Top with pecans or walnuts for decoration.
The total time to make the cake is about three and a half hours, but if you don't have the time to grate carrots and apples yourself, you can take some other elements from the recipe and add them to a cake mix process -- like lining your cake pans with pecans. Just like adding one ingredient to simple dinner recipes
, there are great ways to add some extra flair dessert starters.
But in any case, go make this cake. Happy fall to you!
How was your week? Were you able to take advantage of your evenings -- get things done around your house? make a special dinner for yourself?
I spent some time getting my closet organized. I worked on hanging some more artwork on the walls. And I headed to my first ballet class in more than six years. It was something different at the end of my week, a taste of something from my past, and something refreshing. And it was hard. Picking up anything after six years is bound to be challenging, but that was part of the refreshment -- that I was able to do it.
Last week I promised a one ingredient twist on an easy dinner. Mint. A simple chicken sandwich can be something different, something more refreshing with a minted yogurt marinade. Based on a recipe from Rachael Ray
Here's what you'll need...
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt
- 3 tablespoons chopped mint
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon granulated garlic
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 6-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts, halved horizontally
- pita pockets or deli flats
- lettuce or spinach leaves
- tomato slices
Let's get started...
- In bowl, mix first 5 ingredients and season with salt and pepper.
- Set aside 1/4 cup sauce. Coat chicken with remaining sauce; let sit 10 minutes. In grill pan, cook over medium-high, 3 to 4 minutes per side; pull apart.
- Stuff pitas with chicken, lettuce and tomato; drizzle with reserved sauce.
Was that easy or what? Enjoy.