Get to Gather: Thanksmas

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I’m pretty sure you understand that if you read any of my Thanksgiving associated http://wp.me/p2UOdB-1U. The sadness that accompanied the end of my Thanksgiving leftovers was just too much for me. So I decided to celebrate Thanksmas! I was so proud of myself thinking I made this up, but I didn’t. I suppose everything can be found on urban dictionary these days. For me, Thanksmas is that special time of year between Thanksgiving and Christmas and is meant to be spent with those special friends that aren’t family, but might very well be more fun to hang out with.

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Christmas and Thanksgiving can be stressful, that is not what Thanksmas is about. I am a virgo, so I can have a hard time letting go of control sometimes. That’s why I usually make everything for my dinner parties. Everything. You can’t have a coursed meal if someone might be bringing some random crap. Okay, it’s not crap. It’s just not what I can work with when planning a nice meal. Well I decided to throw that psycho attitude out for Thanksmas and have a potluck! Each person was asked to bring a traditional holiday meal side to accompany the main courses I made. I am happy to report that no one brought any crap, just amazing food that I’ll share with you!
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New Dazzle: Kitchenaid

I guess you can trace my luck with kitchen gadgets back to the stockpile my Aunt Marylee had in her basement when I first moved out of my parents house. My mother and her sisters are garage sale masters and my aunt had been collecting used dishes, pots, pans and utensils for what must have been a very long time. I still have the set of fruit rimmed dishes she let me choose from the pile. That is where it started… And I’m afraid it will never end.

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Here is the beautifully used Kitchenaid from my mothers kitchen which was today bestowed upon me. I’ll be using it for the first time to make rolls on Thanksmas. This is the mixer I grew up watching my mother bake with and I couldn’t be luckier to have a mom who likes to upgrade. Thanks, mom! Xoxo

Dish Debut: Fried Chicken and Pumpkin Waffles

This all started with a box of pumpkin pancake and waffle mix from Trader Joes. It seemed a simple and righteous idea to make breakfast for dinner. But then things got a little crazy. I couldn’t make just waffles. I had to top them with something fried and slather them with syrup. Yeah, I swear I had the best of intentions. Then there was this…

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Oh yeah, I just made fried chicken ‘n waffles for the first time! If you’ve never tried chicken and waffles I’m really sorry for you. But I’d advise against it. Because for me it started a dangerous search for the best chicken and waffles. I turned my nose up the first few times I saw the sinfully delightful fare on menus. But eventually I was intrigued enough by the odd couple to give in. And now I’ve crossed another line I can never uncross. I’ve taught myself how to make them at home. What have I done?

I wrote out the most amazingly specific description of how I made the chicken.  Then it didn’t save on my wordpress app….. So…. I dredged some chicken tenders in buttermilk and eggs, then through a flour/breadcrumb/sage mixture.  I looked up a complimentary flavor for pumpking in my Flavor Bible and it had sage in bold.  It was a stellar combo people.  Then the chicken got fried.  The first description was sassy and thorough, this description is all I can offer now.  But don’t worry, I’m pretty sure I’ll be frying chicken again.  And you can bet I won’t cancel that draft update.

So, I used a pumpkin waffle mix from Trader Joes, so that was just a whisk and some eggs.  Though don’t believe the package, you need more than what they tell you you’ll need to make four waffles.  I love everything from Trader Joes, so obviously I really enjoyed the waffle mix.  So the moral of this adventure: Press save and there is very rarely such a thing as too much maple syrup.

 

 

Thanksgiving Repurposed: Part 2

I left off talking about my Thanksgiving Pizza. Since I had so much fun repurposing my Thanksgiving leftovers this year I had to do 2 blog entries. I’ll continue now with Potato Croquettes and my mother’s Cream of Turkey.

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I’ll start with the Cream of Turkey I grew up eating. It was an after Thanksgiving staple in my house. I remember my favorite way of eating it was on toast. But I’m pretty sure it was also served with rice or some other carb that was lying around the house. But on toast it is like an open faced piece of creamy turkey bliss. And this is from a child that hated the dense whole wheat toast it was smothering. But I guess I learned early that anything can be yummy if smothered in a cheese sauce.

There’s another thing. I didn’t realize exactly how simple it was to make the cream of turkey my mom has been dishing up all these years. Technically all it consists of is a bechamel sauce with chunks of turkey mixed in. Seriously. That’s it. I call it bechamel, my mother calls it white sauce, my stomach calls is amazing. It’s all the same in the end.

So you take 2 tbsp butter and melt them in a sauce pan. Then you add one cup milk and stir together. Then add 2 tbsp flour. Once mixed add one cup shredded cheese. I used mozzarella because it was on hand, my mother recommends white cheddar. Slowly stir until all the cheese is melted and the mixture thickens, then add more cheese because you can. I was advised to double the batch. I didn’t and wish I had. It was easy adding a little of this and a little of that to get more sauce, but starting out by doubling it would’ve been easier. When I had enough sauce I mixed in about 1 1/2 cups of chopped up turkey. Et voila! Cream of turkey.

Now I know I talked about the classic move of toast smothered in cream of turkey, but I like to pretend I’m classier than that. So in an attempt to uphold my fancy pants I chose to use my leftover brown butter mashed potatoes to make potato croquettes as a carb base for the cream of turkey. Potato croquettes=pan fried breadcrumb coated mashed potato balls. So not only did the snob in me feel like I made something fancy, but I got to practice pan frying breaded carbohydrates. Another win/win situation.

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To make potato croquettes you need about 4 cups of mashed potatoes. I added one egg and half of a finely chopped sweet onion to the mashers. I mixed it all thoroughly. I also added a half cup of buttermilk which probably wasn’t needed. It made my mashers a bit hard to shape into balls, so you will only need milk if you have super dry mashed potatoes. Then I took a large spoonful of the masher mixture and shaped it into a ball. Next I dredged it through a bowl with two whisked eggs and then coated the ball in panko breadcrumbs. I filled a frying pan with an inch of vegetable and heated until shimmering, then fried the croquettes in batches until golden brown, about 4 minutes on each side. Then I set croquettes on some paper towels to soak up the excess oil while frying up the next batches.

I then steamed some broccoli (because I suppose you need something healthy at a meal) and smothered the croquettes in the cream of turkey. Yeah, it was pretty decadent. There was some left over masher mixture which I threw in the fridge. I used it to quickly whip up some more croquettes for raclette a couple days later. You don’t know what raclette is? Just wait, you’ll see soon enough. 🙂

P.S.
I think I fell in love with pan-frying breadcrumb coated anything… Watch out, I think this may be dangerous.

Thanksgiving Repurposed: Part 1

I love Thanksgiving for so many reasons: turkey, family, friends, kitchen therapy, paid time off, finally being able to listen to Christmas music(in shared spaces), and last but not least, leftovers. Some people get tired of leftover, but not me. It can be the most exciting thing to have food that NEEDS used in your fridge. (Or annoying, but I try to look on the bright side of things.) And I’m not talking about eating a repeat of dinner or turkey sandwiches for days. Not that I didn’t eat those meals, but what I’m talking about is repurposing Thanksgiving.

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See all that food in the picture above; it was for four people. Let’s just say I know how to plan for leftovers in advance. I was lucky enough to have leftover everything. (Except the Waldorf and lemon pudding salad… I let my mother keep those.) Last year I made a stuffing dumpling soup, a stuffing crust shepards pie, and a honey mustard turkey pizza. I recreated the pizza here, but added sage. That was just the beginning of a week of creativity in the kitchen.

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Get to Gather: Ladies Luncheon

This weekend I had the pleasure of making lunch for two of my oldest friends, Kara Lee and Kristin Diane. I am lucky to say that I’ve known each of these ladies for over a decade. There are things I’ve done with these girls that I cannot share on a public forum, but I am able to give you the details on the meal we shared.

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The agenda for the afternoon was strictly catching up so I offered to make us lunch chez moi. The menu for the meal was Carrot and Squash Soup and Turkey Popovers. I was running late (surprise, surprise) so I was still in the kitchen when they arrived. They pulled up some chairs and we gabbed as I impressed them with my kitchen skills, which included my first use of the the vita-mix I recently inherited from my parents. I can verify that the vita-mix does an awesome job of pureeing soup and that if you don’t have the cover on right it can splatter onto your ceiling.

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Get to Gather: Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving. Here I sit in a food induced stupor on my parents couch watching Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. I regret nothing.  Earlier my mom informed me that turkeys only go to the table whole in Norman Rockwell paintings; I decided he is my idol.  Though now I understand why my Bon Appétit magazine had a beautifully carved into pieces bird on their cover.  There’s always next time.

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I’m lucky enough to be the magic maker in my parents’ kitchen on this day of giving thanks. A few years back, with no big Thanksgiving plans on the horizon I volunteered to do the cooking at my little apartment. When I think of it now it seems insane that I would have attempted this, because I couldn’t even make a descent pasta salad on my own. But my obsession with the food network paid off with a brined turkey breast and all the fixings and a little tradition was born; I now cook Thanksgiving for my parents each year. Today I’ll share the feast I planned and prepared for my parents and our lovely Texan guest Amanda Rae.

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Foodie Adventure: Wafu

Tonight was one of those wonderful nights when my friend Sarah Ruth was in town and we got together for dinner.  Not just any dinner, but a foodie adventure.  I plan on sharing my foodie adventures with you here from my dazzleful life.  To me a foodie adventure is any time where there is a sense of discovery and delight while eating.  It could be a scoop of gelato in Italy, a six course dinner in France, a small plate extravaganza in Portland, or a corn dog from a cart on Broadway.  As long as there is food and there is fun while eating it, it is a foodie adventure.

So for my first foodie adventure entry I’ll share with you the epic meal that was our visit to Wafu.  Lucky for us we were eating on a Tuesday night and we were seated at the chef’s counter in the back of the restaurant.  Let me tell you, if you’ve never done this it is the most exciting place to sit at a serious foodie restaurant.  You get to see everything that comes out of the kitchen and all of the prep that goes into it, not to mention it’s the warmest seat in the house. Below is our view of the kitchen along with the miso & sake marinated steak with chicken-fried mushrooms and roasted garlic au jus. Oh yeah, that was just a starter for us.
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