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Thanksgiving 2011


  Feline overlord surveying the chaos and waiting for someone to drop something edible

This Thanksgiving it was just the four of us with Ian returning from D.C. and Maddy from UVa for the weekend.  Pie prep got started on Thanksgiving eve with Chocolate Pudding Pie from Smitten Kitchen, Apple Cider Cream Piefrom Lottie and Doof, and Salted Caramel Cheesecake Pie from Joy the Baker.  This would be our first Thanksgiving since starting the blog, and the menu was strongly influenced by all the fabulous bloggers I have been following this year. Without boyfriends or extended family and friends much silliness ensued.  If you followed our Twitter feed on Thanksgiving you may have wondered just how early we started hitting the pumpkin ale. 

 Another first this year was Sophie's keen interest in helping out in the kitchen--her oft repeated "what can I do now?" was music to my ears.  She was solely responsible for the awesome cheddar drop biscuits, and generally a huge help with even the most menial of tasks.  Maddy's kitchen skilz and willpower ensured that we arrived to dinner not only excited to eat the meal but actually hungry for it as well.  Together we created the recipe for the chorizo stuffing that we will share later in this post.  Ian's photography skills are responsible for the pictures with exception of the two above taken prior to his arrival.  So grab some leftovers, it's going to be a long post.

Very thankful for the beautiful Hill Country weather that I complained about all summer.  We did a lot of the food prep outdoors--love frying bacon outside in the electric skillet, it's like camping!  Plus the light was better for photos.

 Here is the stuffing recipe Maddy and I came up with, traditional with some Texas flair:

Chorizo Stuffing

1 chorizo, remove from casing and crumble

1 large onion, chopped

An equivalent amount of celery, chopped--so if you wind up with 1.5 cups onion, then use the same amount of celery

Fresh thyme/oregano--we just kept pulling more off the herb plants outside and tasting as we went


Stale bread cubes--we used about 8 cups

Chicken stock--we used around a quart

Saute the chorizo until cooked through.  Add the vegetables and herbs and saute til vegetables are limp but not browned.  Add herbs/salt/pepper to taste.

Combine with bread cubes and mix well, adding stock until uniformly moistened.  We added more fresh herbs at this point as well.

Put in a giant roasting pan that you are not using for turkey because you decided to make prime rib instead.  Bake at 350-375 until hot and browned on top. 

 We decided to go non-traditional with the sweet potatoes since Maddy dislikes a sweet sweet potato preparation.  Chipotle Sweet Potato Gratin, recipe fromBoulder Locavore.   Spiked with chipotle chile peppers this gratin definitely has a kick!

We used a food processor slicing blade to cut the sweet potatoes--this will decrease the prep time {and blood} involved in the finished dish. 

                                                   Makoa Approved

We spent a lot of time shooing the cat away from the food.  She had an "all you can drink" milk buffet the night before while we were doing pie prep with disastrous consequences. 

 What goes around comes around, kitty.

I laughed church laughter for 5 minutes straight the first time I saw this picture....

Another new tradition this year was substituting prime rib for the turkey.  Sophie wishes we had chosen ham, but was content with her sides and pies.  If you have the time/inclination and refrigerator space, I cannot recommend strongly enough dry-aging your beef at home.  I found the directions here

Unveiled from its cheesecloth wrapper--Sophie suggested that they looked like bloody bandages.  What a naysayer.  You are supposed to trim away the dried areas but I didn't really do that.  Just rubbed with black truffle salt and roasted according the Mark Bittman's method.  Make sure you allow the meat to come to room temp prior to roasting and rest afterwards.  

We mixed up some horseradish powder and black truffle salt with softened butter to top our perfectly cooked slabs of meat.

 We did include some vegetables...the cauliflower became a soup starter.  We sauteed some green onions and the cauliflower til lightly carmelized, then added stock and simmered til tender.  Pureed in the vitamix with salt/pepper.

Sophie harvested some rosemary flowers to top it all off--this is the second batch due to all the bugs in the first.

Fresh green beans from the farmer's market

 Topped with fried shallots and bacon...

Equals awesome green bean casserole!  We omitted the mushrooms for Sophie's sake, but I did have some dried porcinis that I would use in the future.

 The Monterey inspired these brussel sprouts--roasted at 400F with olive oil and salt until browned, then added Thai sweet chili sauce and cooked a bit longer.  Our mashed potatoes involved brown butter, sage and goat cheese.

Sophie prepping the brussel sprouts, without complaining.   She was very disappointed by her biscuits. "They don't look anything like the picture."  I had to agree, but while they lacked in height they made up for it in flavor.

If you are still reading at this point, hang in there, it's almost time for dessert....and you will want to know who won the pie contest....


After....it's all about the food styling....

 Kid's table: Sparkling pomegranate soda with pomegranate seeds and mint.

The Ginneato!  Same as above but splash a little Bombay Gin in there...

 We were lucky to have this bottle from Chateau Huang to accompany our meal--thanks Dave!

We dined al fresco, followed by a game of Loaded Questions which we will forever refer to as "Bloated Questions" from this day hence. 

Winner, winner, chicken dinner!  Best pie award goes to the Salted Caramel Cheesecake

 Chocolate pudding pie: Maddy's second place, Sophie's third place

Apple cider cream pie: Maddy's third place, Sophie's second place.

Happy Thanksgiving! Counting my blessings and keeping an eye on this cat.

The Spice of Life

Sophie Pays it Forward Too