Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving FEAST

Dining room table set up for 14!
With these adorable place cards:
Well Thursdays Thanksgiving came and went without too many problems or emotional breakdowns. It was really great to spend time with my family and to see generations cooking together in the kitchen.

I spent Wednesday in the kitchen, prepping and baking. Things seemed to go fairly well until about halfway through the baking process of my Cranberry Cake. I had been cooking on the stovetop and baking in the oven without realizing how steamy it was getting in the rest of the house. Then all of the sudden the fire alarm went off, and it would NOT go off. For 25 minutes, this blaring, annoying alarm kept going off and I pretty much lost it. Dave was at work and not available to tell me what to do so I called my mother, who lives a mile away. We finally got the alarm to shut off, and she told me to go relax and go for a run. Most of mine and my brothers life, when we got stressed or hyper or freaked out, our mom would say, "Go run..." and off we'd go. The run relaxed me a little but I felt like I had a lot to do so I only did a few miles. Again, I wasn't pain free, but it wasn't painful either.

When I got home, my mom had finished cooking the cake and cleaned out my stove so it wouldn't blow smoke. She left and I continued baking, making Pumpkin Cake Squares with Cream Cheese Frosting, Pumpkin Blondies, my Peanut Butter Mousse Chocolate Pie and a Pumpkin Butter Mousse Pie. Then I prepped my stuffed mushrooms, squash and kale, corn pudding... etc. Around 5, I took a break and had a couple drinks with Courtney, Dave, my brother and Natalia. And then we went out to some local bars.

Thursday morning, my brother, Natalia, Dave and myself went out for a leisurely run. We did just under 3 miles. It was nice to get some exercise. Then Natalia, my sous chef and I got cooking. We made the Corn Pudding, put together the pieces of the Butternut Squash, Kale, Cheddar Bread Pudding, started the Spinach Souffle, cut up the red potatoes for the Red Bliss Mashed Potatoes, and cooked the stuffed mushrooms and made the Smoked Salmon on Pumpernickel Toast. At the same time, Dave took the turkey out of the brine, added some butter under the skin and got the bird in the oven.

Here are some of the delicious recipes:

Smoked Salmon and Cucumber Squares
adapted from Gourmet | June 2001
1 English cucumber, sliced thinly

6 tablespoons sour cream

1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons drained bottled horseradish
16 slices pumpernickel cocktail bread

1/4 lb thinly sliced smoked salmon, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
Stir together sour cream, horseradish, and salt and pepper to taste. Toast bread. Spoon 1/2 teaspoon sour cream onto center of each bread square, then top a few slices of cucumber and then add a folded piece of salmon.

Next up
Stuffed Mushrooms inspired by Ina Garten

  • 16 extra-large white mushrooms
  • 5 tablespoons good olive oil, divided
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons Marsala wine
  • 3/4 pound sweet Italian sausage, removed from the casings
  • 6 scallions, white and green parts, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 2/3 cup panko crumbs
  • 5 ounces mascarpone cheese
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Remove the stems from the mushrooms and chop them finely. Set aside. Place the mushroom caps in a shallow bowl and toss with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and Marsala. Set aside. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage, crumbling it with the back of a wooden spoon. Cook the sausage for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until it's completely browned. Add the chopped mushroom stems and cook for 3 more minutes. Stir in the scallions and garlic and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the panko crumbs, stirring to combine evenly with all the other ingredients. Finally, swirl in the mascarpone and continue cooking until the mascarpone has melted and made the sausage mixture creamy. Off the heat, stir in the Parmesan, parsley, and season with salt and pepper, to taste, Cool slightly. Fill each mushroom generously with the sausage mixture. Arrange the mushrooms in a baking dish large enough to hold all the mushrooms in a snug single layer. Bake until the stuffing for 50 minutes, until the stuffing is browned and crusty.
Omg, these are amazing and I will definitely make these again. They were also a big hit!

Dave also makes
Stuffed Marinated Cherry Peppers every year. It's a two week process, but the results are delicious. Here is the recipe he follows:

* 1 lb prosciutto
* 1/2 lb provolone cheese
* 2 lbs cherry peppers
* 1/2 gallon white vinegar

* 1 quart extra virgin olive oil

* 1 quart canola oil
* 1 small onion, thinly sliced
* rosemary

* bay leaf
* dill weed
* basil

* chopped garlic

* parmesan cheese

Wash cherry peppers and place whole, stems intact, in 1 gallon jar. Fill jar with white vinegar. Let stand at least one week. You may need to add more vinegar to keep the jar full as the peppers soak it in. The peppers will float, make sure to keep them covered. After soaking for at least a week, pour out vinegar and rinse peppers in cool water. Cut provolone to the appropriate size to fill the peppers.Cut the Prosciutto slices in half. Wrap the provolone with a 1/2 slice of Prosciutto (or 2 for larger peppers) and stuff into pepper. Add some Olive Oil to the jar. Add Onion, Rosemary, 2 or 3 Bay Leaves, Dill Weed, Basil and chopped Garlic to oil. Place the peppers in the jar and fill the jar with 50% Olive Oil and 50% Canola Oil. Top off the jar with a sprinkle coating of Parmesan cheese. Let soak a minimum of one week and serve!

Our other appetizer was fresh veggies with store-bought ranch dressing. My mom brought this.

Now on to the side dishes:

Real Creamed Corn Pudding adapted from Bon Appétit | November 2009

10 to 12 large ears of corn, shucked
1/2 cup of frozen sweet kernels defrosted
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, divided
2 cups chopped onions

1 cup chopped celery
2 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt,
4 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup sour cream

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Using large holes on box grater, grate enough corn into large measuring cup to yield 4 generous cups of thick milky pulp. (It looks like scrambled eggs at this point) Preheat oven to 425°F. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in heavy large skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions and celery; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt. Sauté until tender but not brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Scrape mixture into bowl. Whisk egg yolks in large bowl 2 minutes. Stir in corn mixture, onion mixture, sour cream, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and remaining 2 teaspoons coarse salt. Whisk egg whites in medium bowl until stiff but not dry; fold into corn batter in 2 additions. Place remaining 2 tablespoons butter in 10- to 12-cup cast-iron skillet or baking dish. Transfer to oven and heat until butter begins to brown, about 4 minutes. Brush butter over inside of skillet. Add pudding. Bake pudding 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Bake pudding until set and golden, about 30 minutes longer. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Next up
Mashed Red Potatoes (Family Recipe)
* 5 pounds red bliss potatoes

* 1 stick of butter
* 1 and 1/2 cups of half and half
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper

* Special equipment: potato masher

In a large pot, cover potatoes with water by 1-inch. Bring to a boil, add salt and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain potatoes well. Put back in the pot and begin the mash process. Meanwhile, melt the stick of butter (its Thanksgiving, get over it!) with the cup of cream and combine with potatoes in stages and mash until desired consistency reached. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Butternut Squash and Cheddar Bread Pudding adapted from Molly Wizenberg
* 2 pounds peeled seeded butternut squash, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 6 cups)

* 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
* 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt plus additional for sprinkling
* 7 large eggs

* 2 1/4 cups half and half

* 6 tablespoons dry white wine
* 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

* 1 day-old baguette (do not remove crust), torn into 1-inch pieces (about 10 cups)
* 1 cup chopped shallots (about 4 large)

* 2 bunches Tuscan kale (about 1 pound), ribs removed, kale coarsely chopped
* 8 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely grated

Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss squash with 1 tablespoon oil on rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with coarse salt; bake until squash is tender, turning with spatula occasionally, 20 to 25 minutes. (Did this part Wednesday)Whisk eggs in large bowl. Add half and half, wine, mustard, and 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt; whisk to blend. Add baguette pieces; fold gently into egg mixture. Let soak 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add shallots and sauté until soft, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Add kale; cover and cook 2 minutes. Uncover and stir until kale is wilted but still bright green, about 5 minutes (kale will be a bit crunchy- did this the day before as well). Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Generously butter 13x9x2-inch baking dish. Using slotted spoon, transfer half of bread from egg mixture to prepared baking dish, arranging to cover most of dish. Spoon half of kale over bread. Spoon half of squash over bread and kale; sprinkle with half of cheese. Repeat with remaining bread, kale, squash, and cheese. Pour remaining egg mixture over bread pudding. Cover bread pudding with foil. Bake 20 minutes. Remove foil; bake uncovered until custard is set and bread feels springy to touch, about 20 minutes longer.

Next up:
Cranberry Sauce adapted from Cousin Marilyns family recipe

* 1.5 cup sugar
* 1 cup water

* 2 12-oz package) fresh cranberries
* 1/2 cup of peeled and sliced Macintosh apples

* orange zest
Microwave cranberries and 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup of water for three minutes. Take out container and then microwave apples and remaining half cup of sugar and water for three minutes. Combine apple mixture with cranberry mixture and add in the orange zest with the rest of the sugar.

Next up, Spinach Souffle
(Cousin Michele, proud of our work)

  • 3 tablespoons bread crumbs
  • 10 ounces spinach, well washed, tough stems removed (I used 15 ounces of frozen)
  • 4 teaspoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 whole large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup freshly grated Gruyere cheese
  • 2 large egg whites
  • Cooking spray
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Position rack in the center of the oven. Coat a 2-quart souffle dish or 6 individual (8-ounce) dishes with cooking spray. Coat with bread crumbs. Defrost spinach and then drain well to remove all excess water. Place the spinach in the bowl of a food processor; pulse until finely chopped; set aside. You should have about 1 cup. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour, and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Gradually whisk in the milk, and bring just to a simmer. Cook, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir in salt and pepper. Remove from heat, and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk 2 egg yolks until blended. Whisk in a little white sauce to temper the eggs, then add the remaining sauce, whisking until combined. Add the cooked spinach and grated cheese.
  • Place the 4 egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on low until soft peaks begin to form. Increase speed to high; beat until stiff peaks form and egg whites are smooth.
  • Using a rubber spatula, transfer one- third of egg whites to spinach mixture; gently fold in until blended. Add spinach mixture to remaining egg whites; gently fold in until just combined. Pour into prepared dish or dishes.
  • Place souffle in oven, and reduce heat to 375 degrees. Bake until puffed and golden, 20 to 30 minutes. Serve.
Here's some prep shots:
(myself and my aunt, a total foodie...)
Okay moving on to dishes I didn't make. THE TURKEY! (Dave made this by brining the turkey for 24 hours and then adding some butter under the skin and cooking for 4 hours)
Potato Challah Bread Stuffing:
Mashed Squash:
Roasted Squash and Potatoes:
Green Bean Casserole and Carrots and Peas:
Sweet Potatoes:
Here is an overview shot of the family at the table with the first course, Butternut Squash and Chipotles in Adobo Soup!
This was a Tyler Florence recipe and it was amazing!

I decided that the easiest way for everyone to eat was to serve buffet style. So we put all the food out and people got to pick and choose what they wanted. We had a lot of choices!
Okay, now lets check out my plate! A little of everything as you can see:
My aunt wanted her food to make the blog. Here is her plate : )

After dinner we hung out a little before diving into dessert. Here was the star of the show!
This is baby Zoe. She's made the blog before...she is my first cousin Michele's baby! Here is the Olsen Family (My cousin Michele, her husband Michael and baby Zoe)
Dave and I:
Cranberry Cake:
Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse Pie:
Pumpkin and Apple Pies made by my mother in law:
And the Pumokin Blondies...
There was also cookies, ice cream and way too healthy tasting pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting...
Wow what a meal... we have soooo many leftovers. Its insane. I'm still in my food coma but trying to get motivated to either run or go to the gym. Happy weekend everyone!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Track & Thanksgiving

Yesterday I went grocery shopping for 95% of my Thanksgiving menu. I still need to pick up my turkey (I ordered it) and some fresh produce on Wednesday. Not sure if I've mentioned this but for the third year in a row, Dave and I are hosting Thanksgiving. However this year, my aunt and uncle, cousins and grandparents are coming as well. So with our combined families, we are having 14 adults and one adorable baby. I've been planning my menu over the last month and have finally locked down whats for dinner. My Aunt Dede is a huge foodie as well so we worked together to come up with this plan. Here it is!

2009 Thanksgiving Day Menu:


Smoked Salmon on Pumpernickle Toast with Cucumber Cream Cheese (Bon Appetit)
Crostini with Kale & Parmesan (Everyday Food)
Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms (Barefoot Contessa)

First Course:
Sweet and Hot Butternut Squash and Chipotle (Tyler Florence)
Main Dishes:
Brined Turkey 23 pounds (Dave and I are making)
Brined Turkey 13-15 pounds (my mom is making)
Creamed Corn Pudding (Bon Appetit- made here, adding in chipotles)
Red Bliss Mashed Potatoes
Squash/Kale/Cheddar Bread Pudding (Bon Apetit, made here and here)
Cranberry Sauce with apples and orange peel
Potato Challah Bread Stuffing (Family Recipe)
Green Bean Casserole (mom's recipe)
Mushroom Gravy (Cooking Light)
Spinach Souffle (Cooking Light)
Candied Sweet Potatoes (Nana's favorite recipe)
Roasted Potatoes (for my father-in-law, can't eat dairy)
Mashed Squash
Cranberry Jello Mold (mother in-laws favorite recipe)
Peas & Carrots (Dave loves his peas : )

Apple Pie (My mother in law makes an amazing apple pie)
Pumpkin Pie
Black-Bottom Peanut Butter Mousse Pie (Bon Appetit, made here)
Cranberry Cake (Cooking Light)
Pumpkin Blondies w/ icing (made here)
Ice Cream

I think we will definitely have enough food! Seriously though, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love trying new things and I'm really excited to share the day with my entire extended family! We are going to have a full house!

Today, I woke up late and then my brother came over. He wanted to do a track workout; something we both haven't done in many years. We drove to the track and decided to do a warmup in the local state park. This probably isn't the smartest place for me to run with all the leaves covering the roots but I went with it. We didn't run fast and I felt pretty good with my injuries. But I felt like it was harder than yesterday (maybe the four vodka, sprite cranberries from last night weren't helping.) We went back to the track and did a couple laps and I decided that was enough for me. 3.5 miles in just over 9:30 pace (this includes when I had to stop to let dogs pass since I'm still scared of most animals, such a wimp, I know.) Mike decided he was going to run 1 mile as fast as he could. I wanted to time him and I started my Garmin then quickly realized it doesn't work if I'm not moving. haha. He had a watch and he ran pretty even spilts, 70, 2:33 and finished his timed mile at 5:09. Pretty freakin' impressive!

Once I get healthy, I would like to do a timed mile as well. My fastest mile was 5:57 and it was the only time I ever ran the mile. My college coach made us all run the mile during practice one day. He tried so hard to turn me into a distance runner. But my idea of distance was the 800! I do miss the track and I'm looking into running clubs in the area that have an Indoor Tracks that I would be able to do some speed workouts this winter.

The rest of the afternoon was pretty lazy. I've decided I don't want to do a lot of cooking between now and Thursday so I bought a Boboli pizza and Annie's Mac n Cheese. On the pizza I put tomato sauce, mexican blend cheese, proscuitto, red, orange and yellow tomatoes, green onions and feta. I also put together a salad. Great quick, barely cooking meal!
So, this week I worked out 6 days and my achilles are feeling a lot stronger. I have PT tomorrow so I want to talk to him about my hip, but I think he will be pleased that I ran pretty much pain free. Hopefully he will be pleased, he hasn't exactly approved me to run outside yet, oops!

Here's what I did this week:
Mon Nov 16: PT, eliptical, step, running backwards on treadmill, lifted legs
Tues Nov 17: Boot Camp
Wed Nov 18: Ran 2.5 miles, lifted legs
Thurs Nov 19: Muscle Conditioning (best class ever! I used to take this all the time and have to get back into it- we work ever muscle!)
Friday Nov 20: OFF
Saturday Nov 21: Ran 3.78 outside
Sunday Nov 22: Ran 3.12 + two cool down laps (800 meters with big bro)

Plans for this week:
Monday: PT
Tuesday: Boot Camp or off (not sure I will be able to get out during lunch because I have Wed, Thurs and Fri off of work so I assume it will be a busy day!)
Wed: Run 4 miles, lift legs
Thurs: Run Turkey Trot 5K or 5 miles
Friday: Run 3 miles, lift legs

Have a great week!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

I'm Back.... running! I'm not officially healthy and injury free but I'm getting back... slowly. Today I ran just short of 4 miles at 9:14 pace OUTSIDE.

I felt pretty good cardiovascular-ly. Is that a word? Basically what I mean is that the run wasn't tough, but I did have a little pain in my right hip and my left achilles. Yes, now my left achilles is feeling a little pain. This is my first run outside since October 9th. It's been awhile! I ran with my Garmin which is always a blessing and a curse. I was happy when I saw under 9 minute pace, annoyed when my pace slowed to close to ten. At around 3.5 miles, I started feeling good and picked up the pace. I always feel better 3 to 4 miles into a run. But I was so close to my house and I didn't want to push it too much.

When I got home, I watched the last quarter of the Celtics game from last night while icing. Dave DVRs most games so he can watch them without the commercials. I iced both achilles and my hip. Frozen corn has a double purpose!

So also this week, I signed up for the Hyannis Half Marathon in Feburary! I looked up a training plan for the Providence Marathon I plan on running and the week of this race would be my 7th week of training. I'm supposed to do 16 that weekend so 13.1 with a warmup and cool down will be perfect!

My training for Providence officially begins Monday January 11 and I will follow a 16 week program with a 4 day a week run schedule. I want to do 1 speed day, 1 long run day, 1 recoverey and 1 moderate day. Then 1-2 days of cross training/classes or lifting. I'll keep you updated on my progress and training schedule once I find one I like. Happy Saturday!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

More Fall Flavors...

So Monday night, I took a break from cooking and went out to sushi with my BFF's. So I was really looking forward to cooking on Tuesday and tonight. Last night I made some repeats. I made Bon Appetit's Squash/Kale/Cheddar/Bread Pudding (again) and Bella Eats Potato Cheese Soup as well as more Pumpkin Blondies!!!

Here is the Potato Cheese Soup recipe. I really wish I followed her recipe more closely, because I didn't love the soup. It was too thick for my liking. But I'm not a huge potato girl...and I bet if I followed her method I would have had a better result. So click the link above!

Potato Cheese Soup


  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 large onion, 1/2-inch dice
  • 3 stalks celery, 1/2-inch dice
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced to 1/2-inch
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 large Russet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1-inch cubes
  • 6-8 cups vegetable stock
  • 4 oz mexican blend cheese
  • salt + pepper
Heat butter over medium-high heat in large soup pot. Add the onion, celery, carrots and garlic and saute’ until the onions are just translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and saute’ another minute. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium (a low boil) and cook until the potatoes are tender but not falling apart. Puree’ the mixture until smooth using an Immersion Blender. Whisk the cheese and season with salt and pepper.

Here's my dinner...
Then I made some more Pumpkin Blondies! mmmmm..not sure how one is missing
: )
Tonight, I made Chicken and Butternut Squash Tagine inspired from this month's Cooking Light.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 8 ounces peeled frozen cubed butternut squash
  • 8 pitted dried plums, chopped
1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion; cook 8 minutes or until golden, stirring occasionally. Stir in cumin and next 7 ingredients (through chicken); cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in broth, squash, and dried plums; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 10 minutes or until squash is tender.
I thought this dish was probably a 6 out of 10. I didn't love it, I didn't hate it. I used frozen cubed squash and defrosted it first and it became way to tender in the pot and got kinda mashed up. As a side to go along with the chicken, I made a saute of Winter Greens.
• 1/2 pound of Rainbow Swiss Chard
• 1/2 pound of escarole
• chicken broth
• salt and pepper
• red pepper flakes

Saute with evoo in skillet until wilted, then add in broth and seasonings.

I also served this up with the Kale/Squash/Cheddar Bread Pudding I made yesterday.
And my dinner plate.
Update on workouts:
Monday: Physical Therapy
Tuesday: Boot Camp
Wednesday: ran 2.5 miles, lifted legs

Kay off to watch Top Chef!