We’re officially at the 2 week mark: meaning exactly 2 weeks
from today is Thanksgiving, already (can you believe it?). If you’re doing the
cooking this year that means you’re already getting revving up; stocking up
supplies, taking final head counts, and looking for any last minute add-ons. I’m
going to add a new recipe idea here and there to see if we can’t help inspire
and entice you to steal the show with a new flavor or two. Today I found a
fabulous new take on traditional dinner rolls: Brie and Chive biscuits.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat your
oven to 375 degrees. Combine all of your dry ingredients in a bowl and stir
until blended. Add in your butter and using a pastry blender cut until your
mixture gets crumbly. Add in your brie pieces and chives, and then toss to
combine. Add in your buttermilk and stir until absorbed (don’t over mix).
Lightly flour your work surface and transfer your dough
to it. Knead it gently a few times to bring it together. Gently spread out your
dough until it’s about 1 inch thick. Use a floured 2 inch cookie cutter or small glass
to cut out 16 biscuits (reshaping your scrap dough and re-flouring as needed). Place
on your baking sheet and bake until golden brown, about 15 to 18 minutes.
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Gearing up for Thanksgiving, it’s important to still have a
couple fall crafts to decorate your home, especially if you’re hosting this
year. It’s far to easy to skip from Halloween straight to Christmas:
Thanksgiving is becoming a forgotten holiday! To keep the spirit alive spend a
little time preparing with your little ones or loved ones. Here’s a great little
3D paper pumpkins project that works as a mantel decoration or
Start by cutting out 16 – 20 circles/ovals that you’ll be
using to create your pumpkin. Cut them all the same size (whatever size you’d
like your pumpkin to be). Fold your circle/ovals in half with the side you want
showing in the center. Glue one folded half to the next folded circle. Do the
same for all of your pieces until you glue the last halved circle to the first.
Push your stick gently down the middle for a stem.
So we’re officially beyond Halloween and on to November. I
get “little kid on Christmas” giddy just thinking about the Thanksgiving and
holiday prep to come! Yes, I know, I’m a holiday addict and I should probably
head to TRA (Turkey Roasters Anonymous) but I haven’t gotten to the “accepting
I have a problem” stage yet! Anyway, like we started, it’s November and holiday
preparations are likely already underway in your home (or at least in your head).
To help you along the way I figured I’ll post up some simple recipes and cheat
sheets to help keep your Thanksgiving Day and beyond as simple and peaceful as
possible! What better what to start out the thanksgiving countdown than with a
Turkey cheat sheet?
How big of a turkey do you need?
It is suggested that you figure 1 ¼ pounds of turkey per
guest. Of course, the majority of your guests aren’t going to eat a full 1 ¼ lbs.
of turkey, but after waste and bones that equals out to more than enough for
your guests and leftovers.
How long will it take your turkey to thaw in the refrigerator?
You’ll want to allow a full 24 hours to thaw per 5 lbs. of turkey.
So if you have a 15-16 lb. turkey, your best bet is to have it in the fridge
defrosting by Sunday night.
What if you want or need to thaw your turkey quicker?
You can use a sink with a stopped, lobster pot, or cooler to
defrost the turkey with cold water. You’ll fill until submerged and then change
the water every 30 minutes. This method is faster, but it’s still time consuming.
It still takes about 6 hours for a 12 pound turkey, so give yourself enough
Are you brining the turkey?
You can brine the turkey as it defrosts in the refrigerator,
½ cup kosher salt to 1 gallon of water. If you’re brining the thawed bird (for
24 hours or less) use 1 cup of salt per 1 gallon of water. The turkey must be
kept below 40 degrees, though! You can also add any other flavorings to taste:
cloves, rosemary, orange slices, bay leaves, garlic, onions, lemons, etc.
Dry curing or
You can also use a dry curing, or dry rub of sorts, the last
day or two before roasting. Use a ½ cup of kosher salt per pound of turkey, and
any other seasonings that you desire (salt and cracked pepper corns are a
simple and delicious option). Spread over the skin and into all crevices of the
bird. It’ll look like too much salt if you’ve never done it before, but it’s
not. Place the turkey uncovered on a cookie sheet back into the fridge for the
last one to two days. This also helps to dry out the skin so that it’ll crisp
in the oven.
Do you stuff or truss the bird?
If you’re going to the perfect, most moist turkey that
anyone has ever had…then no. With trussing the bird, you keep it together
picture perfect, but it will take longer to cook the legs thoroughly. With
stuffing the bird you really need to make sure to cook it long enough that the
stuffing has reached the safe, 165-170 degrees all the way through. Both may
cause your breast meat to dry out. Your best bet is to let the bird lie without
trussing and stuff it with aromatics (such as lemons, oranges, onions, garlic,
Roasting the actual turkey?
My favorite method is low and slow, starting at 450 degrees
for the first 30-45 minutes, and then turning the oven back to 325 for about
12-15 minutes per pound. You can also roast at a high 425 degrees for 1 ½ - 2 ½
hours (depending on the size of the bird). Either way, use a meat thermometer
to check multiple sections of the bird at the end of your time period to see if
it’s really done. You want at least 165 degrees to be safe, I usually aim for
To baste or not to baste?
Nope! All you’re really doing when you baste is letting heat
out and moistening the skin so it stays flabby, rather than crispy. Your
flavoring is in your dry rub, any herb mixture that you chose to run under the
skin before roasting, and your aromatic stuffing.
Must it rest?
Absolutely! Once your turkey is up to temperature, remove it
from the oven and allow it to rest, tented with tinfoil, for 20-30 minutes. This
will help it retain its juiciness.
Halloween isn't just a favorite holiday for kiddies. Adults
should be able to get a little spooky and enjoy Halloween, too (especially with
it falling on a Friday this year)! Whether you’re going out partying,
hosting a little soiree of your own, or just enjoying an evening of tricks and
treats at home, here are a couple ghoulishly fun Halloween cocktails to help
you keep in the “spirit” of things. ;-)
Start with a Ghostbuster. It is super simple, sweet and fruity, but it looks disgusting: what more could you want in a Halloween cocktail?! You'll need:
~ 1 ounce of peach schnapps
~ 1 ounce of melon liqueur
~ 3-5 drops of Irish cream
Shake the peach schnapps and melon liqueur in a cocktail
shaker with ice. Strain into chilled cocktail/martini glass. Add the drops of
Irish cream for effect.
What fun is Halloween without candy corn? Here’s a Candy Corn Martini that'll provide a yummy adult alternative. You'll need the
~ a chilled martini glass
~ 1 ½ ounces of coffee-flavored liqueur
~ 1 ½ ounces of white chocolate liqueur
~ 1 ounce of orange colored and flavored vodka (such as UV)
~ ½ ounce of triple sec
In your martini glass, pour your liqueurs in order over the
backside of a spoon.
Most of the “brains” drinks I find are questionable
concoctions that need to be shot quickly before they curdle…no thanks. Here’s a fun
one, Zombie Brains, that is tasty to drink and look at without, you know, all of
~ 2 ounces of UV Salty Watermelon vodka
~ 1 ounce of triple sec
~ 1 tablespoon of sugar
~ 1 splash of lime juice
~ 4 large ice cubes
Combine your of your ingredients but the 4 ice cubes in a blender full of ice.
Pour over the extra ice cubes in a glass and enjoy.
One last phantasmic concoction to try this Halloween is the
lovely Vampire’s Kiss.
~ 1 ½ ounces of Midori
~ 1 ounce of blood orange vodka
~ 2 ounces of pineapple juice
~ ½ ounce of cream
Combine all ingredients except the grenadine in a cocktail
shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into a cocktail glass full of ice.
Drizzle grenadine around the glass for a bloody effect.
With just a couple days until the Halloween
holiday, I thought it was a great time for a quick list of safety tips to just
act as a reminder. I know, we all know how to keep our kids safe and sound, but
it’s good to just be refreshed once in a while! Here’s a quick should do be for
the big evening of door-to-door (if you trick-or-treat).
I found a super simple pumpkin idea that’ll not only add a
unique touch to your Halloween décor, but also last through a good portion of the
rest of your Fall! Instead of carving all of your pumpkins this year, why not
make a chalkboard pumpkin or two?! With a chalkboard pumpkin you can have
ever changing Jack-o-Lantern faces and welcome signs galore! Now, I would use
a real pumpkin (I also have many to spare since I work on a pumpkin farm), but
you can buy and repurpose plastic, craft store pumpkins, too! All you need are:
Cover your table/surfaces with newspaper to keep them safe, weighing it down with stones if you're painting outside (so that the paper doesn't move or blow
away). Make sure that your pumpkins are clean and dirt free. Allow to dry if
you're washing them right before painting. Place your pumpkin in the center of
the paper and paint the entire surface that you can reach. Allow the paint to
dry for 1-2 hours, and then roll the pumpkin on its side to paint any places
that were missed. After allowing that to dry another 1-2 hours apply touch up
paint to anywhere that has pumpkin showing through. Once complete you should
allow your pumpkin/pumpkins to dry thoroughly overnight before applying any
chalk decorations. When you want to change your decorations a damp cloth works great as an eraser so that you
can change your pumpkin’s look over and over again!
Halloween isn't just a favorite holiday for the kiddies
anymore. I still get just as excited for the season as I ever did, maybe even
more so now that I get a month of my favorite classic horror movies of regular
TV stations and awesome horror releases to help inspire the season! If you're a
Halloween fan, too, and love partaking in the spookier side of life, here are a
couple of Halloween Must-Reads to help get you into the festive mood!
Start with a couple classics. Although it may seem redundant
to have Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein on a “Halloween
Reading List,” it’s amazing how many of us haven’t ever read the real deal. I’m
just as guilty as the next, and can’t believe I need to add them to my own
Kindle this month. Both are very honestly enthralling reads that will pull you
in and keep you beyond “the sake of being a classic.”
Although the movies were a craze a couple of years back, if
you still haven’t actually read John Ajvide Lindqvist’s Let the Right One In I
highly recommend it. It is truly a unique tale settled in the Vampire genre and
will thoroughly creep you (if not skeeve you) out until the very end.
For something a little more unusual for Halloween Fare, I recommend
trying out Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell’s graphic novel, From Hell. It’s a tale of Jack the Ripper and the events
leading up to the Whitechapel killings (as well as the cover-up to follow).
Looking for something with a little more horror packed into
the punch? Stephen King is always a safe direction to turn. I've just recently
picked up both The Sleep Doctor and The Shining, and am planning a King-a-thon
like no other! We all know the story from the cult classic movie, but we all
know the book is always better. If you've already had your fill of Jack and his
family, try returning to the Overlook Hotel with new characters and plot twists
in the sequel Doctor Sleep.
Lastly is a twisted horror movie classic that was also a
novel that redefined the genre, Shirley Jackson’s The House on Haunted Hill. I
am a Vincent Price (or as I affectionately refer to him, “Vinny Price”) fiend
and adore anything that he was in. Even better, I loved the 1999 remake almost
as much as the original! Both delve into what happens when a group of strangers
are coaxed into a haunted house with the promise of a cash prize if they
survive the night. This Halloween I’m going to go back to where it all began
with Jackson’s 1959 classic. This is the twisted mind that brought us the short
story, “The Lottery,” so you know it has to be good!
It’s time for a super simple and fun fall recipe or two! I'm
all about keeping things seasonal and fresh: so I look for new tastes and treats
whenever I can! Here are two simple autumn recipes that you may want to add to
your own seasonal cookbook.
Pumpkin Quesadillas: now these are great for a quick
appetizer, or even a light meatless meal (especially is served with a side salad).
All you need are:
In a bowl combine and mix the pumpkin and cumin.
Spread the pumpkin out over 4 tortillas. Sprinkle with your cheese and nuts (adding
more of either, if you'd like). Cover with the remaining tortillas. Warm up 1
tablespoon of oil over a medium-low heat in a skillet or frying pan. Cook your quesadilla,
flipping it once, until both sides are browned (1.5 – 2 minutes per side). Add
more oil between batches. Cut your quesadilla into wedges however you'd like.
Butternut Pudding: this is a super simple and yummy dessert
that takes almost zero prep-time! It’s something unusual to
spice up your regular Sunday dinners or pot luck parties! All you need are:
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Blend all of your
ingredients together and pour them into an 8 inch baking dish. Place the baking
dish in a roasting pan and fill your pan half way up the baking dish with boiling
water. Bake for one hour. Best served warm with whipped cream on top!
It’s a spa pampering kind of night today. It’s been one of
those stressful months already, and it’s only the 7th! To help
combat the stress and the worry I’m going to work on a little self pampering. Here’s
a fresh fall face mask that'll keep me and my skin happy while I relax to a
Halloween inspired horror movies tonight. All you need are:
Combine your ingredients and gently apply all over your face
(avoiding your eyes). Allow to set for 15 minutes or so, and then rinse away
with a wash cloth and warm water. Follow up with your favorite moisturizer.
Not big on pumpkin? Here’s another refreshing fall mask I’m thinking
Combine your ingredients and mix them well. Apply to skin in gentle circular motions, again avoiding your eyes. Allow to sit for 15
minutes, and then rinse away with a wash cloth and warm water.