There was turkey.
There were leftovers.
There were dishes...in fact I think we used every dish and utensil in the house...twice.
There was fun had by all.
The first major holiday held in our "new" house (and it really does feel like a new house with all the changes we've made) was a great success. My family has adopted the brilliant policy of potluck family dinners. The host family does the main, and everyone else brings a side, or wine. It makes a HUGE difference. That said, I still spent two days cooking. I also made some cute decorations that I will adapt from season to season.
THE FOOD: I started by writing out my menu, including what others were bringing:
(The astersisks were for things I could make in advance, in the middle are my groceries, and at the bottom are the potluck dishes.)
On Saturday I started two loaves of No-Knead Bread:
I left one plain, and the other I covered with parmesan and black pepper. This is a really great recipe-- I make my own bread all the time and it is SO easy. Really. Try it.
Next was cranberry sauce:
(Fuzzy. Taken with my iphone. That's my belly in the lower left corner. Nice.)
Let me say that I don't generally like cranberry sauce-- but this is really delicious. There are four ingredients: water, sugar, a bag of cranberries, and cinnamon. (The recipe calls for orange zest, but I added 1/2 tspn of cinnamon instead.) Simmer for 12 minutes on the stove, then throw it in the fridge. Unless you have some sort of emotional attachment to the canned stuff, you should make this. The girls wanted to eat it by the spoonful, and I'm planning to put the leftovers in plain yogourt, or over pancakes. TRY THIS. (Sorry. I'm pushy today.)
I also made Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies for the kids for dessert. I use this peanut butter cookie recipe from Martha Stewart, then add 3/4 c. of chocolate chips. They turn out perfectly every time. You should try these, too. :)
We bought a 16 lb. free range turkey from the butcher on the corner. The first time I made turkey was our first year in Ottawa when we hosted Thanksgiving for all of Quillan's grad school friends who were far from home. Again, Martha to the rescue. Once I tried this recipe, Perfect Roast Turkey, there was no need to try anything else. (For the life of me, I cannot figure out why this recipe only shows up on page 3 when you search "Roast Turkey" on her site. It should be number one.) Here is my beauty:
Why this is the best turkey recipe:
1. Even when I didn't know how to cook, the turkey still turned out this gorgeous.
2. No brining, but it's still super juicy. The key is roasting it at 450F for the first 30 minutes to sear it, then lowering the temp to 350F for the rest of the time. My 16lb. turkey cooked in 3 1/2 hours flat. I kid you not. We took the internal temperature three times, and even my sister, who is squeamish of poultry, agreed that it was fully cooked.
3. You baste this baby in three sticks of melted butter and a bottle of white wine mixed together. Every 30 minutes the bird got a good basting. Now, imagine the gravy made from turkey drippings, 3 sticks of butter, and a bottle of white wine. Yeah. Really good. (By the way, Martha suggests soaking cheese cloth in the marinade first and draping it over the breasts before roasting. Of the four times I've make this recipe, I only did that once, and I didn't find it made any difference.)
I had so much left over turkey I started the soup before my family even left so I wouldn't have to find a place for it in the fridge. No doubt there is also Turkey Pot Pie and Turkey Tettrazini in my immediate future.
My grandma, who had a cold and couldn't make it, still sent along her homemade cabbage rolls-- my favourite dish since I was a kid. Thanks, Grandma!
With all the cooking I was doing, I kept the decorations pretty simple. I had seen paper garlands on other blogs, so I thought I'd give it a shot-- especially since my MIL was staying with us and could help me with my sewing machine. I used my Wishblade (with a free cut file from Laina Lamb) and punches to cut out circles and leaves from Bella Blvd.'s "One Fall Day" line, then I fed each shape through the sewing machine, leaving a little space between each one. Very quick, very cute:
(again, fuzzy iphone photos)
(Little white pumpkins, $2.99 for a bag of five at the grocery store.)
Next, I used the same line of paper and some Maya Road chipboard tags to make place cards for my dining room table:
Rather than painting the chipboard, which would have been messy and required drying time, I just pressed each one onto an ink pad and let the ink soak in where it wanted. I also edged them in a bit of gold ink, for a little extra glitz. (The font here is Edwardian script, by the way.) Each person got a pumpkin and a place card. I'm sure I'll re-use these pumpkins for Halloween... hmm...maybe a set of Halloween minions for a big pumpkin?
I'd love to see your holiday decorations, and hear about your favourite holiday recipes! Link me up!