Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving at The Stilish Family Table

Cute Thanksgiving banner compliments of dimpleprints.com
Cheese appetizer to tide everyone over...hurry before the "mice" eat it all!
We never had kid's tables like these when I was little!
The devastation...post-gorge
Bread cornucopia holding...bread
My daughter/photographer didn't make it to the dessert table before everyone starting digging in!

This was such a special and fun Thanksgiving! The first in our new house, it was a challenge to find everything. Once we did, it came together pretty well! We had family, friends and lots to be thankful for. What made all the pre-dinner chaos worthwhile was when my friend Mary walked in and said she felt like she had just walked into Thanksgiving-land! ...I think that was a complement...in my Martha-esque world it is!! I am thankful for a couple of awesome websites for some wonderfully inspiring ideas...dimpleprints for the free Thanksgiving downloadable decorations (we made the banner and decorations for the kid's table napkin rings and crayon jars) and Party Animal for the great turkey party favor and Indian corn cupcake ideas! Check them out...they'll inspire you to create your own Thanksgiving-land, too!

Indian corn cupcakes and M&M turkey favors 




Monday, November 22, 2010

I'm Thankful for...Menu Planning


At this time of year I am extra thankful for so many things...my husband, my children, family and friends, turkey gravy in a jar.  Seriously, do you want to have to cook those giblet things?
I will be preparing the exact same menu my family has been enjoying my entire life. As a chef, I have tried to interject a little culinary finesse, a little something new and different and fresh to our menu over the years. One thing I have learned from doing this? Don't! My family does not appreciate change when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner. They have learned to embrace the addition of gruyere to the mac and cheese but brie and artichoke dressing? Politely declined. Pineapple in the sweet potatoes? Ignored. Orange zest in the REAL, FRESH cranberries? Flat out shunned. But I will not give up. I just know if I keep on trying, someday we might have something new on the table. This year I'm going crazy and serving.....A CHEESE PLATTER!

I pray that you and your family have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving!

P.S. - We didn't exactly follow our plan last week....we ate out . So, this week we will be catching up! Here is my plan...
Monday: BBQ chicken stuffed baked sweet potatoes

Tuesday: Baked potato soup

Wednesday: Meatloaf, garlic mashed potatoes, peas

Thanksgiving Day:
Turkey (duh) one roasted, one deep fried
Cornbread sage dressing - my grandmother's "recipe" - basically a pinch of this, a handful of that...
Stinky Mac and cheese (my sister's name for the version I make that has cheese other than Velveeta in in) I use this recipe as a guideline only I add a few more varieties of cheese.
Green bean casserole - try it with Cream of Onion soup instead of mushroom...you'll love it)
Sweet potatoes with marshmallows - my mother-in-laws contribution
Orange jello salad - yes I know, we're just old-fashioned like that besides, where else can you put mayonnaise, pecans, cheese and pineapple together and have a yummy dish/entertaining plaything?
Corn casserole - melt two packages of cream cheese with one stick of butter, add 4 cans corn(drained) and 3 tablespoons minced jalepeno. Place in baking dish, sprinkle with bread crumbs and bake until bubbly.
Mashed potatoes
Cranberry sauce - open can, slide out onto serving plate. Careful! Don't let it roll away! All of your guests will admire it's perfectly round shape all of the pretty ridges!
Rolls
Chocolate pie, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, chocolate-pecan pie, buttermilk pie, pumpkin roll, chocolate cake, anything else I might think of.

Friday: Family Fun Night!! Let the Christmas decorating begin!!! Pizza and the first Christmas movie of the season. I wonder how turkey pizza would taste...

Saturday: Leftovers! Our favorite is a turkey-fied version of Welsh Rabbit: cold turkey on toast covered in a hot cheddar cheese bechamel sauce.

Sunday: Turkey Benedict: English muffin smeared with cranberry sauce, turkey, poached egg and Hollandaise sauce.

For more menu ideas for your Thanksgiving dinner or what to do with those pesky leftovers check out www.orgjunkie.com

Monday, November 15, 2010

Spring Cleaning...a little early

The day I have been loathing, dreading and generally avoiding is almost here. The day I have been working toward my whole life (a lifetime of collected...for lack of a better word...crap) is coming this Saturday. I am having a garage sale. I am amazed by the amount of useless or unnecessary stuff I have been lugging around from house to house for the last 15 years! Now that we have finally settled into our own home after all those years of renting, I can avoid the task no longer! I have to open every box and face the fact that I have pack-rat tendencies...hoarder potential!! I decided I need help. Through self-imposed, intense therapy that mostly involved watching multiple episodes of "Clean House" for inspiration, I have decided to cut through the foolishness and mayhem.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not expecting Neicy Nash to ring my doorbell any time soon, I just want to lighten my load and get organized.  Making a few bucks in the process certainly wouldn't hurt either. So, wish me luck on a successful sale and a lot of extra room in our house!
I've got to stay motivated while I'm getting ready and good food is just what I'll need (with liberal doses of chocolate, of course)! Here's my plan....

Monday:
Crockpot spaghetti with meat sauce
Green beans
Garlic bread

Tuesday:
BBQ chicken stuffed baked sweet potatoes
Corn bread (do double duty - bake some extra for Thanksgiving dressing)

Wednesday:
Creamy onion gravy smothered pork chops (in the crockpot)
Garlic mashed potatoes
Peas

Thursday:
Chicken divan - held over from last week

Friday:
Family Fun Night - My daughter is coming home from college for the holidays so we'll probably go out to dinner to celebrate!!

Saturday:
Meatloaf - not just any meat loaf - my husband's favorite mixed with bleu cheese and wrapped in bacon and brushed with our family's secret recipe BBQ sauce.
Mashed potatoes (again!)
Glazed carrots

Sunday:
Cajun chicken pasta
Vegetable medley - that's the restaurant term for "I don't know what vegetables we're having but we are indeed having vegetables".

Find a jillion great ideas for dinner at www.orgjunkie.com. Try menu planning for the holiday season...dinner will be one less thing to stress about during this hectic time...it's like an early gift to yourself!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Menu Plan Monday November 7-14


Dance like you have to go pee no one's watching

It's going to be another busy, Irish-centric week. I know, not something the average family can relate to. Sometimes, I have trouble with it, too. We are a family with 5 Irish dancers. When we started out, I thought we would go to dance class, have a year-end recital and be done with it until the next year...you know, like ballet or tap dancers. Little did I know that Irish dancing is a thriving sub-culture that would come to consume our lives (and most of our bank account!). Actually, we happily dedicate a great portion of our time to the dance school, our dance friends and the addictive nature of this type of competition. No, it just looks like they need to go to the bathroom...they're Irish dancing! My children LOVE to dance. They dance in the grocery store, for the dentist, at church...pretty much anywhere, appropriate or not. I'm not sure who, but someone thought it would be a great idea to have one of the biggest Irish dance competitions of the year, each DECEMBER. So, we spend pretty much the entire autumn season preparing. The kids practice, I write checks for dresses, wigs, socks and more socks, ghillies, blister relief products, etc...and try to come up with meals that can cook while I play shuttle bus driver to and from practice.  Here's my plan....SLAINTÉ!

Sunday
Portable food - green chile chicken empanadas - crockpot cream cheese chicken with a can of chopped green chiles and Monterey jack cheese added. I use canned crescent rolls, add the chicken filling, fold over and seal with a fork. Brush with butter, sprinkle with taco seasoniing and bake according to can directions.

Monday
Autumn sausage casserole - another recipe from A Year of Slow Cooking...I'll let you know how it turns out!

Tuesday
Baked ziti - take your favorite lasagne recipe and mix it with cooked ziti noodles and bake. Yummy!!
Green beans
Garlic bread


Wednesday
Mongolian beef and vegetable fried rice - I love, love, love A Year of Slow Cooking. I think it actually has a decade's worth of recipes which is great when you are having an affair with your...uh...crockpot.

Thursday
Parmesan chicken - This is a wonderfully grown up dinner that my kids never leave a bite on the plate. Ina Garten has a great recipe if you need one (you don't). Just pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts to an even thickness (pounded...should that be thinness?) anyway, dredge in beaten egg and a mixture of Italian seasoned breadcrumbs and grated parmesan cheese. Fry (I know, just do it) them in olive oil. I always serve it with fettucini alfredo. Homemade alfredo sauce is so easy. I've always made it from the recipe out of my old, worn, stained and loved Betty Crocker cookbook.
Fettucini alfredo
Glazed carrots

Friday
Family Fun Night!! Not sure what the plan is yet..I'll update when my thinking cap is recharged!

Saturday
Grilled cheese with spinach and pancetta - saw this on Giada de Laurentiiseseseses show and my 7 year old daughter thought it looked yummy. She saw that it had spinach in it and she still wanted it! So we'll give it a try.
Tomato basil soup - canned diced tomatoes, garlic, basil, heavy cream, food processor, easy

Sunday
Paula Deen's Chicken Divan
Apple dumplings and vanilla ice cream

Have an amazing week and happy eating!!!