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Posted on Nov 26, 2012 in Dear Diary | 23 comments

Confessions

Hi-dee-ho friends! I hope you’ve all successfully worked through a modicum of your Turkey Day leftovers and are fueled up to be (sigh) back at work. I thought I’d start this week off with something fun mildly humiliating to brighten your days. It is the season of giving, after all.

So my girl Cassie from Back to Her Roots does these awesome Confessions posts over on her blog, and they always make me feel so delightfully human. So I figured I would totally rip her off and do one of my own. Ready? Okay!

1. It is solely due to my fear of being judged by others that I don’t take the elevator to my new office on the 2nd floor.

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2. I very rarely (like, almost never) walk my dogs. I know it’s terrible, but I’ve always justified it by saying they’re very small, and they get to run around in the backyard like 5 or 6 times a day. In fact, that only reason they’re even being walked at all these days is because we’re doing major landscaping renovation on our backyard, and I *have* to. And I still resent it. Me = awful dog owner.

3. This weekend, for the first time since I graduated from college, I slept in until noon. Well, until 11:45, but that’s close enough. It was glorious… and guilt-inducing. My day flew by WAY too fast, so I think from now on I’ll stick to my body’s natural 9-ish weekend alarm clock.

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4. Occasionally, I still get McDonald’s breakfast. Ooooooops. At least they’re posting all the calorie counts on their menus now? (And yes, I know the photo above is pretty much unrelated, but evidently I don’t capture any photographic evidence of my McDonaldsry… for obvious reasons. Hahahahaha.)

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5. I ate my body weight in mashed potatoes and stuffing this weekend, and I regret nothing.

Go ahead, get it off your chest! What do you feel like confessing today?

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Posted on Nov 23, 2012 in Food | 7 comments

Turkey Day 2012

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Twenty-two pounds of bird, twelve people, five hours of cooking, and two miniature schnauzers schnauzers. The food. Ohhhhh the food! Roasted turkey, butternut squash and sausage stuffing, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, sweet potato and spinach salad, green bean bundles, roasted brussels sprouts, cranberry pear compote with port wine, and turkey gravy. (Wipes drool from chin.) Then, to end the night, a trip down to Stafford to see Sean’s parents, where they had ALL THE PIES.

Yeah, I think it was a pretty good Thanksgiving. :)

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Posted on Nov 21, 2012 in Dear Diary, Food | 4 comments

Holiday Mental Check

I love holiday season. I love the festivities, I love the food (duh), and I love the general feelings of goodwill towards man that flow through the air from November through January. Everyone seems just a little friendlier, a little more willing to say hi or lend a hand. Also, presents.

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But the holidays are also a time plagued with other issues for me. The constant, continual offerings of food and feasting, drinks and dessert, have been very conflicting for me in the past. I’m sure it’s far too generalizing to say that it’s an issue that anyone who has struggled with eating issues has had, but I’d venture to guess that it is. It’s very wearying to have a running battle inside your mind, pitting your wants and desires against each other.

Yes, I want to eat and be merry and have fun with my family. No, I don’t want to overeat and feel guilty and stuffed, or look like a pig. Yes, I want to be able to indulge in food that I usually only get to eat once a year. No, I don’t want to gain that holiday weight. Yes, I want to eat pumpkin pie. No, I’m not sure I’ll be able to stop at just one slice.

Pumpkins Pies

It’s exhausting. So this year, I’ve put some pretty serious thought to mentally checking myself for the holidays. It might sound kind of silly, maybe a little bit like an overreaction, to have to mentally prepare for a meal. But c’mon, food is a pretty pervasive thing during the holidays. And I do have known and admitted, past and present, issues with food, my body, eating, and the feelings that that are wrapped up in those things. I try to embrace both parts of me when it comes to holiday meals now: the part that still loves the food, the smells, the spirit AND the part that wants to strive for balance and health in her life. It’s what led me to create some of my awesome healthier-but-still-awesomely-indulgent holiday recipes.

Stuffing Ingredients

I am SO looking forward to Thanksgiving tomorrow. I can’t wait to start prepping tonight, to get together with my family in the kitchen tomorrow, and have my only job for the day be to cook, and then eat. But I am going into the entire day with thought and purpose. And in that spirit, here is my Thanksgiving credo: I will eat what I choose. I will enjoy every bite, and not eat for the sake of eating. I will listen to the cues of my body, and strive not to stuff myself to the point of belly-rubbin’, jeans-poppin’, about-to-burst fullness, BUT if I do, I will not beat myself up about it. I will not obsess over what the scale will say afterward.
I mean, c’mon. It’s freaking Thanksgiving, you know?

Daxters

I sincerely hope you have an awesome holiday, filled with friends, family, food — or however you choose to spend it!

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Posted on Nov 15, 2012 in Food | 19 comments

Thanksgiving Recipe Roundup

Part of me is literally flabbergasted that Thanksgiving is one week away. ONE. WEEK. I don’t know about you, but Turkey Day has seriously snuck up on me this year! I know I probably say that every year, but this year really does seem like it’s flying by. Craaaazy.

Thanksgiving is my third favorite holiday (the first being Christmas, duh, and the second being my birthday because YES MY BIRTHDAY IS A HOLIDAY SHUT YOUR CAKEHOLE) so I’m definitely happy it’s so soon. I’ve taken root as the primary cook for our family Thanksgivings, which is a huge joy to me because I love to cook so much. That said, planning out Thanksgiving dinner is not without its stressful moments.

This year will be the largest group of my family members to gather for a Thanksgiving meal that I’m head chef-ing up. Luckily, I’ve got my mom and two of my aunts who are all wonderful cooks as well, so I’m sure we’ll be able to tackle everything without a problem. I can’t wait to get everyone together, but I am trying to be a smidge more proactive this year. So far, that’s included actually designing the menu ahead of time! And here’s what I’ve come up with so far.

Gobble!

Turkey. Uh, duh. As in years past, I plan to use a Gretchened-up variation of Alton Brown’s Good Eats Roast Turkey recipe, which includes an overnight brine. This recipe honestly yields the best turkey ever. The brine keeps the turkey breast moist and delicious, and it seriously feels foolproof. There’s no basting, no checking, no turning of the bird. It requires the first 20 minutes on super high heat to seal everything in, and then you just turn down the heat and forgettaboutit. I always serve with pan-drippings gravy as well. Nom nom nom.

Roasted Garlic Whipped Potatoes

I mentioned a couple days ago that I was testing out a new mashed potato recipe, but that it didn’t quite live up to my Roasted Garlic Whipped Potatoes. Well, that’s because I believe few things can. I still am in love with this recipe, and I haven’t had a chance to make it for most of my family yet, so I’m very excited to. This recipe involves absolutely ZERO butter, making it far more waistline-friendly than your average taters. Instead, it uses roasted garlic, olive oil, and a splash of heavy cream. So good. So freaking good.

Stuffing with Butternut Squash and Apples

I am also planning on recreating my Stuffing with Butternut Squash and Apples recipe, which turned out truly fantastic last year. Usually there are a couple of vegetarians present at our family gatherings (my sister, in particular), but since Jenny and Dan are spending T-Day with his parents this year, I’m thinking about adding a little sausage into the stuffing as well. Either way, stuffing is my 2nd favorite Thanksgiving meal component (taters is #1), so I can’t wait!

Other meal components will include maple bacon roasted Brussels sprouts, this cranberry and pear compote that my mom and aunt made the last time we had a family dinner (it blew my jalapeno-cranberry relish recipe outta the water!), and I also want to try a new spin on kind of a green bean casserole. You know, find a way to make something with all the traditional flavor, but none of the Campbell’s Condensed Cream of Mushroom? Hahaha. We’ll see how that shakes out.

Still haven’t made any decisions on dessert yet, but you can rest assured there will be pie. OH SO MUCH PIE.

Man, I love Thanksgiving.

What’s your favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal? Are you all about the turkey, more of a sides person, or seriously into dessert?

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Posted on Nov 29, 2011 in Food, Recipes | 15 comments

Jalapeño-Cranberry Relish

So as it turns out, my protestations over hospitalizing Daxter because of cost were for naught. ‘Cause, you know, he ended up in the doggy hospital anyway and I feel like a terrible person for delaying the inevitable. The latest update is that if he can keep down food and water he might be able to come home around noon. So in order to distract myself from the fact that my little guy spent the night in a hospital bed… cage… thing… instead of being curled up awkwardly on top of my laptop as I try to type this (CRY.), I wrote up another recipe. Hooray for filler!

Okay, I promise that this will be the last uselessly late Thanksgiving recipe I’m going to lay on you guys… for now, haha. And to be fair, it really does translate past Turkey Day, since it’s spreadable on everything from leftover sandwiches to crackers & cheese.

Saucy

It’s a bit of a spin on traditional cranberry sauce, with as much zing as you want! Even if you’re not a huge fan of spice, the slightly bitter flavor of the jalapeño peppers and the zip of the orange and lime makes it a dish that’s so complex you’d never believe how easy it is!

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Jalapeño-Cranberry Relish
Print this recipe!

This zesty cranberry sauce will leave your tastebuds satisfied with its mix of sweet and spice. Make it hotter by including some of the seeds from the jalapeño, or downplay the spice by only using one pepper. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

2 jalapeño peppers
1 12 oz. bag of fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar
1/2 orange, zest and juice
1/2 lime, zest and juice
1 cup water

Instructions:

1. De-seed and finely mince the jalapeño peppers. Zest your orange and lime halves and set aside.

2. Heat a pot to medium heat with a bit of nonstick spray or a small sprinkling of oil. Add the jalapeño and heat for 30 seconds to a minute. Add lime and orange juices.

3. Add cranberries, water, and sugar. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat until sauce is simmering. Add lime and orange zests and simmer until cranberries have burst and sauce begins to thicken, 10 – 15 minutes.

4. Remove from heat, transfer to serving bowl and let cool. The sauce will thicken and become more gel-like the longer it cools. I like my cranberry sauce cold, so feel free to refrigerate!

Jalapeno Cranberry Sauce

Nutritional info per 1/16th (~2 tablespoons) serving: 58 calories, 0 g fat, 15 g carbs, 0.1 g protein. WW Points+: 2

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