I was going to do a quick post yesterday to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving, but the morning flew by. And once we started cooking around 10:30 we didn’t stop doing, doing, doing until pretty late. And I was pooped.
I hope each and every one of you had a fabulous day. If it was even half as awesome as mine, I know it was good. Because our day was amazing.
It’s odd, though, because we only had a few people here. My Mom hasn’t been feeling well so she and my Dad did Thanksgiving alone at their house. My son-in-law, TJ, is still deployed. The grand kids were at their other grandparents’ house. Amy, who is still recuperating from foot surgery, stayed close to her own home and spent the holiday with friends. Eric’s girlfriend was with her family in Pennsylvania. My brother, sister-in-law and nephew are in Virginia (that’s where they live). So…
Our gathering consisted of Hubby, of course, my mother-in-law, Shannon, Eric and me. And the dogs. We can’t forget them. 🙂
We decided to be different this year and forgo some of the more-traditional fare (like a turkey). All of us prefer chicken. None of us are really crazy about pumpkin pie either. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Shannon, who also likes to cook, agreed that it would be fun to experiment. I’ve always wanted to try sausage stuffing. And I get REALLY tired of the same old side dishes all the time. We decided to start with the must-haves (chicken, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy) and then add some new stuff. Shannon took the initiative to find some interesting recipes. She succeeded, too.
I really am not exaggerating when I said we started at 10:30 and didn’t stop.
Actually, Shannon started on Wednesday by baking totally-from-scratch cinnamon rolls just like Hubby makes. They were designated as our Thanksgiving breakfast. She loves to bake, and it shows. The cinnamon rolls were delicious.
One of the must-have-again-SOON recipes Shannon found was Bella’s Brussels Sprouts with Bacon. Hubby, MIL and I really like Brussels Sprouts anyway. Shannon likes them, too. Eric doesn’t particularly care for them. But we all agreed that Bella’s Brussels Sprouts with Bacon ROCKED.
Then there were the Roasted Beets and Sweets…
As much as I like red beets, I’ve never actually prepared them. Shannon hadn’t either. So we were both quite intrigued by the way the beets looked when freshly-peeled. The recipe was simple to follow and absolutely divine. If you’re a fan of red beets and sweet potatoes/yams, you have to try this Roasted Beets and Sweets recipe. Sorry I don’t have a picture of the finished product to show you.
I did mention that Shannon loves to bake, right? She’s my Kitchen Aide Pretzel Maker, remember? For dinner, she elected to make some dinner rolls. The recipe (actually called a formula) came from her bread maker’s Bible. Check these out…
Those were THE BEST rolls I have ever eaten. For serious. I’m not a huge bread fan. I mean, I like good-quality bread, but I’ve never been one to say, “Ooh, I would love to have some homemade rolls.” Now? We may never let Shannon move out. Having your own personal baker is AWESOME. Especially when they’re really good at it like Shannon.
While she and I cooked and baked, the dogs anxiously watched for our guests to arrive.
I baked an Apple Crumb Pie, too. Like the ones Brianna and I made back in October.
We used myriad spices as we cooked and baked. At one point, I had a few extra minutes and decided to reorganize the spice cabinet a bit. If you don’t do that periodically, things get completely out of hand. Shannon didn’t believe me when I told her we had FIVE different containers of garlic powder. So I got them out to show her.
When Eric still lived with us, we went through garlic powder like crazy. I prefer fresh garlic personally, but that boy loves him some garlic powder. Since it’s completely his fault that we had so much garlic in the cupboard, I made him take three of the five containers home.
The dogs were pretty good about staying out from under foot. Every now and then one of them would sneak back into the kitchen. But for the most part, they did pretty good.
Back to our experimentation…
The last experimental side-dish was Garlic Carrots. Oh. My. GAWD. They were very simple, and really, really, really good. They were quite possibly the best cooked carrots I have EVER eaten. Again, I am not exaggerating. They were THAT good.
We had two chickens because we made two kinds of stuffing. And the stuffing that’s cooked inside of the bird is ALWAYS better that the other stuff, so we had to have two chickens for the apples-to-apples comparison. The recipe Shannon chose was Awesome Sausage, Apple and Cranberry Stuffing. It was very good, but the traditional stuffing is still my favorite. That’s like one of my favorite things in the whole world to eat, so I’m not surprised that I liked it better. But the experimental stuffing was good, too.
I’m sort of bummed that I didn’t take pictures of all the side dishes, but we were busy! I did try and get a shot of the meal on the table. None of these pictures are particularly good (there’s at least one person I captured with a weird look on their face or something out of focus in each), but I am posting them anyway because they were all the pictures I got.
That picture is actually not bad, but Eric is missing.
This would’ve been a good one if Hubby hadn’t been goofing off and sporting a Gaige-face (Gaige loves to make goofy faces in pictures).
And in that last one, I caught my MIL with her eyes closed. Sorry, Mom!
We were all half-starved by this point. Shannon and I somehow messed up our timing. The chickens weren’t finished until at least two hours after they were supposed to have been done. So I couldn’t make everyone wait too long to eat.
And eat we did. It doesn’t look like there’s that much food on the table, but there was. And it was all fabulous. I made succotash, too. That’s a staple. And I didn’t mention the gravy. I make yummy gravy, if I do say so myself.
Once we were finished, the dogs got to eat their Thanksgiving meal. I use the chicken innards and necks to flavor the gravy base. Once that’s cooked for several hours, I always remove the innards, chop them all up and save it for the dogs. So they got that, some chicken, and a big dollop of gravy added to their bowls. They were all thrilled.
Even though we all wished the rest of the family could’ve come, we all agreed this was quite possibly our best Thanksgiving meal ever. Shannon and I really had a good time cooking together. And everyone enjoyed our experiments immensely. All-in-all, it was a very satisfying and very happy day.
Now, I think I’d better go and eat one of those leftover rolls of Shannon’s. And maybe some mashed potatoes and gravy, too. Plus some leftover stuffing…