Thanksgiving Prep: Early November

posted in: Holidays, Thanksgiving 2015 | 0

Thanksgiving Sides Sweet Potato Cranberry Brussels Sprouts

Think it’s too early to start planning Thanksgiving dinner? Think again! November 26 may seem like a long way off, but for the holiday host, it’s right around the corner. And for anyone counting, it’s only 23 days away. That’s why this month, we’re bringing you preparation tips to ensure your Thanksgiving is as smooth as your gravy (should be).

The majority of these tips aren’t exactly new. But they’re still relevant today. Many moons (okay, six years) ago I was a regular contributor to Slahsfood, AOL’s now-defunct food blog. One of my favorite assignments was to prep readers for my favorite holiday: Thanksgiving! Thanks to the Wayback Machine, I’ve located the posts, edited them a bit for, er, modern times (I’m a grown-ass woman now), and am sharing them here.

In between our Thanksgiving tips posts, we’ll also be sharing some of our favorite original Thanksgiving recipes, so stay tuned or be sure to follow us on Facebook, or you know, whatever works for you.

Early November Thanksgiving To-Do

1. Get a head count.
Now’s the time to start inviting people to Thanksgiving dinner. If you’re thinking about it, there’s a good chance your friends and family are, too. So if your cousin is bringing her new boyfriend, and both sets of grandparents are coming to town, as well as your parents and siblings, you’re going to need to figure out how to seat everyone at your small table with three mismatched chairs.

Getting a head count this early ensures you’ll have enough time to borrow tables, chairs, and whatever other furniture items you need so everyone can eat comfortably, and then have a place to lounge when the tryptophan-wine combo sets in. And this is the time to be clear about how accommodating you’ll be to dietary restrictions. Before you decide, try to find out who’s a vegetarian, who’s allergic to nuts, and what else you’ll be dealing with. As annoying as it can sometimes be to make everyone happy, the last thing you want to hear as you put your orange-scented green beans with toasted almonds on the table is that your cousin’s new boyfriend has a severe nut allergy. (Of course, vegetarians just mean more leftover turkey for your sandwiches!)

2. Pre-order your turkey.
There are few things more stressful than trying to find a good turkey of the correct size the week before Thanksgiving — especially if you want a heritage turkey or are particular about organic and free-range game.

Luckily, many grocery stores and butcher shops begin taking orders for turkeys right about now. And that early head count will let you know how much turkey you’ll need to ensure everyone leaves with bellies so full they’ll wish they’d worn sweatpants. Allow for one pound of turkey per person (that way you’ll most likely have leftovers for things like the aforementioned turkey sandwiches and turkey noodle casserole).

3. Decide on your sides.
You don’t have to get super specific with recipes now (and we’ll be sharing our favorites soon), but it’s good to start thinking about the kinds of sides you’re going to prepare. Are you going to attempt your dad’s saccharine sweet potato casserole with marshmallows on top, or do you want to try something a little more sophisticated this year? Will you serve brussels sprouts, broccoli, or both?

Make a list, and then you can decide what you can realistically take on (remember, you probably only have four burners and two oven racks to work with) and what you’ll ask others to bring (we’ll address this next time). Then comes the fun part: recipes!

4. Decide who will do what.
At our house, it’s a given that my husband Kyle will take care of the turkey, and make a few of his favorite sides, while I’ll handle the sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, boozy cranberry sauce, a salad, and wine. And, of course, the table styling. If you’re co-hosting, and the division of labor isn’t so clear in your household, now is a good time to set expectations so one of you doesn’t end up with the lion’s share of work at the last minute.

How do you start prepping for Turkey Day? Tell us in the comments!

The Feed Me Five | 9.29

posted in: feed me five, Links, Recipes | 0

best easy recipes

Five food things from around the web we loved this week.

Fact: I’m not very good about doing these regularly. Doesn’t mean the links aren’t lovely.

1. Lady and Pups: Honey Whipped Ricotta-Stuffed Scones
I really like scones. Except when they have fruit in them, which is most of the time. That’s why I can’t wait to try these Honey Whipped Ricotta-Stuffed Scones from Lady and Pups. There is literally nothing about them that sounds bad.

2. Food52: Thai Iced Tea Ice Cream
I’m not that into sweets. And it’s not necessarily ice cream weather, but I would most definitely eat way too much of this Thai Iced Tea Ice Cream if given a spoon and a chance.

3. Reclaiming Provincial: Honey-Rhubarb Pisco Sour
I have a bottle of Pisco I’ve been holding onto and now I know what to do with it. Of course, it’s not rhubarb season (this recipe was not posted this week) and I’m currently incubating a baby, so I guess I’ll hold onto this recipe for a bit longer, too.

4. Brooklyn Supper: Spiced Apple Waffles
Because it’s fall. And your Pumpkin Spice Latte can suck it. Or just eat these waffles.

5. The New York Times: Chicken With 40 Cloves of Garlic
Bring on the garlic breath! This easy, garlicky chicken sounds amazing. But I’d probably use, like 39 or 41 cloves of garlic, just to be a dick.

The Feed Me Five | 9.18

posted in: feed me five, Links, Recipes | 0

Honeycrisp apples, bacon and more fall recipes

Five food things from around the web we loved this week.

We missed a few weeks. Oops. But we’re back with our five favorite food blog links from the week.

1. Food 52: Spicy, Peanutty Udon with Kale
Peanut butter on pasta? Don’t mind if I do. From this week’s round-up, 13 Places to Put Peanut Butter (Besides a PB&J).

2. The New York Times: Garlic Soup That’s in a Rush
And pasta in a garlicy broth? Yep, I’ll take some of that, too, please. 

3. The Kitchn: Slow-Cooked Boeuf Bourguignon
I really have no good excuse for why I don’t use my slow cooker more often — except maybe that it’s stored really high up and I’m terrible at planning ahead. I guess those are two decent reasons, but not reasons enough to put off making this Boeuf Bourguignon any longer.

4. Half Baked Harvest: Bacon Wrapped Fig and Honeycrisp Apple Salad with Salted Caramel Pecans
I’m not a big fruit person. In fact, one might say I loathe fruit other than the essence of citrus, certain berries, and non-mealy apples — especially Honeycrisp apples. Add in some bacon-wrapped figs and nuts and I’m in healthy-ish heaven. Or at least “mostly good fats” heaven.

5. Eater: 12 Perfect Plates Across the U.S. 
This one definitely gets filed under “food porn.” I would eat all of them. Right now.

5 Tips for Surviving a Juice Cleanse

juice cleanse

Julia Child said, “Everything in moderation, including moderation.” (Or maybe it was Oscar Wilde; the Internet isn’t quite sure. But Julia Child seems more appropriate here, so we’ll go with her.) She lived to 91, spending her life surrounded by salted butter, triple-creme cheese, and wine, so there must be some wisdom there. (And let’s not worry ourselves too much that Oscar Wilde died of syphilitic meningitis at 46.)

As someone who spends his days professionally cramming food in my mouth, I could certainly benefit from a bit more moderation: a nibble here and a sip there, instead of a fistful here and a guzzle there. Alas, I’ve yet to crack that nut. (Mmmm, nuts. Hold, please, while I grab a fistful of salted peanuts). I have, however, learned how to at least somewhat mitigate my indulgences with outbursts of clean living. It’s why I have kale salad for dinner every Monday (a very minor offset to my 4,000-calorie-a-day weekends). It’s why I generally don’t drink during the week (because what’s more fun: two drinks a night or 14 on the weekend?). And it’s why I willingly participate in a productive, if sometimes unpleasant, three-day juice cleanse every other month.

I purchase my cleanses from t.Loft, whose daily program includes five surprisingly sweet and satisfying juices, a fresh but wholly unsatisfying green salad, and one tiny but often-life-saving peanut butter protein ball. The t.Loft website claims that a juice cleanse can help you,”reboot your body, arm your cells, and power your system to run at peak performance.” Or in my case, just not be so much of a fat-ass. It also claim that, “cleansing has been used by spiritual masters throughout history to physically purity the mind and body” and that “this practice gives the digestive system an opportunity to rest while flooding your cells with phytonutrients.” Now I’m certainly no spiritual master, and have no idea what phytonutrients are or whether I should even be ingesting them, but I do know that after three days on a juice cleanse, my mind is clearer and my body at least a little less toxic.

Seriously, after a cleanse, I feel great.  Don’t believe me, just check out my four-day physical transformation.

before and after

Though I feel, and obviously look, fantastic by the end of the process, I do not find much inherent joy in the act of caloric deprivation. Fortunately, I have learned a few tips for how to successfully navigate a juice cleanse:

1. Be sad. Not eating food is probably going to make you kind of sad. Like, “what’s the point in getting out of bed?” sad. It may take a day or two (or in my case, 30 minutes) for the sadness to sink in, but it will. And when it does, I say dive headfirst into a deep, cleansing cry. The objective here is to become so inconsolably sad that you don’t even want to eat. Here’s a starting point: Think about how messed up it is that you are willfully denying yourself readily accessible food while so many in the developing world go hungry. Then watch that Sarah McLachlan SPCA commercial and think about where all those pets are now (hint: the answer is “dead”). If you’re not crying by now, congratulations, you’re a robot and this will be easy.

2. Avoid TV and Internet. Did you know that more than half of all web content eventually links to a photo of an Awesome Blossom or Bloomin’ Onion (depending on your hemisphere)? And that Man v. Food is the leading cause of type-2 diabetes in this country? It’s true, and you don’t need any of those visual calories oozing into your brain while you’re choking down a raw spinach salad with straight vinegar. Disconnect or you are doomed.

3. Drink coffee. Most cleanse “experts” will tell you to abstain from coffee during the duration of your cleanse, and perhaps even for a few days immediately preceding and following. That’s great advice for the type of person who can “just have a cup of tea instead.” I, however, am not one of those people and say drink as much coffee as it takes to get through the day.

4. Stay sober. Abstaining from alcohol is fairly implicit in the very idea of a cleanse, but I’ll just reinforce that you should absolutely 100% avoid alcohol (or any other mood-altering, hunger-inducing substances) during your cleanse. Don’t even look in the direction of your liquor cabinet (or Colorado). For example, and I’m speaking theoretically here, you are watching Mad Men and decide that one little half drink at the end of a long day wouldn’t hurt anything. After all, look at these people drinking smack dab in the middle of the day. Yeah, you deserve it for all your sacrifice today, and it’s just a few ounces of liquor. It’s pretty much juice…And then next thing you know you’re halfway into a bag of Pirates Booty, your organic-powder-cheese-stained hands rifling through the back of the pantry looking for that half-full bag of fun-size Rolo’s leftover from Halloween 2013…Theoretically, of course.

5. Sleep. I’ve heard rumors that there are nighttime activities beyond eating and drinking, but having never experienced them myself, I’m dubious. That’s why I go to bed at 7:30 when I’m on a cleanse. Also, see #2 and #4.

Armed with those simple tips, and a healthy dose of shame and vanity, you too can survive your juice cleanse and catapult your mind and body to new heights, or at least less abysmal lows.

 

The Feed Me Five | 8.28

posted in: feed me five, Links, Recipes | 0

food links we love

Five food things from around the web we loved this week.

1. i am a food blog: Smoked Gouda Potato Pancakes
I am dying to try these crispy, smoky, cheesy, salty potato pancakes — with lots of sour cream on top, of course.

2. Food52: Crunchy Almond Butter Meringue with Berries and Cream
If I’m going to eat fruit, it better be berries. And if I’m going to eat berries, they better be combined with nuts and eggs and cream, like in this recipe from Alice Medrich over at Food52. 

3. The New York Times: Hummus from ‘Jerusalem’
I’ve been meaning to buy the Jerusalem cookbook for a few years now. This hummus recipe may be just the boost I need.

4. Bon Appetit: Matcha Doughnuts
Just being honest: I’m probably never going to make these matcha donuts from Bon Appetit. But if someone made them for me (hint, hint) I would most definitely eat them. Lots of them.

5. 10th Kitchen: Lemon Curd Donuts (Vegan and Gluten Free)
I’m excited about these lemon-curd donuts in spite of the fact that they’re vegan and gluten-free (definitely not because of it). Probably not going to make these, either. But I’d eat them.

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