Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cran-Apple Butter

I made the cranberry apple butter yesterday. I peeled and sliced 11 apples. The original recipe calls for 14. I know it sounds like a lot but you get a lot of apple butter. I had a cup and a half of cranberry sauce left over from Thanksgiving. My little sister would be shocked. She loves cranberry sauce. I added the sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon and vanilla. I did cut down on the amount of ground cloves going in. The original recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon but I changed it to 1/4 teaspoon. I wasn't sure how cloves and cranberries would taste together. The cranberry-apple butter turned out great but I can't really taste the cranberries in it. The apple butter has a slight tang to it but not a lot. I do like it though. I put some in the freezer containers and the rest in a left over glass jar. The glass jar went into the fridge because I did not want to clean apple butter out of my freezer after the jar exploded! I plan to give my grandma some of the first batch of apple butter and I think I'll give her some cran-apple butter too. My mom might like some too. I think I'm addicted to making it!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving and Left-overs

This past Thursday I hosted Thanksgiving for Steve's parents and his twin brother. I popped the turkey in the oven at 10 AM. Most of the side dishes were made in advance. The only things that weren't made in advance were the corn, stuffing and mashed potatoes. Steve cut his finger on our new peeler trying to peel the potatoes. After getting him bandaged up, I took over peeling potatoes. Linda, David and Nathan arrived while I was peeling potatoes. They brought cookies, a cheese ball and crackers. Nathan forgot to bring the rolls. I gave him a hard time about it and then told him we had some Grand's biscuits in the fridge he could make. Linda helped make the potatoes and helped me transfer the turkey to the serving dish. In all, the meal went very well. The turkey turned out great which I was the most nervous about. I also made homemade gravy for the first time using the turkey drippings. The seven layer jell-o salad did not turn out that well. A couple of the layers with carnation milk didn't completely set. I was disappointed but didn't let it ruin my day. I had a great time talking with Linda. The boys and David were at the table talking so Linda and I took control of the TV. I switched it to ABC family and we watched a little of Snow White. Steve and I had watched the Macy's Thanksgiving parade before everyone arrived.

We had a lot of left-overs, mainly turkey. I did send some food home with Nathan. Linda turned down taking left-overs because they had more traveling to do during the weekend and no way to store the food properly. For this week's menu plan, I put turkey noodle soup and turkey pot pie. I'm hoping we can use all of the turkey left-overs that way. If not, we'll have BBQ turkey sandwiches. I made the turkey noodle soup today and it tasted great. Chicken noodle soup is one of my favorites. I used that recipe and subbed turkey for the chicken. I also decided to make cranberry apple butter using the left-over cranberry sauce. My sister Kat had sent me a recipe for apple butter that I've tried and liked. I'm adding the cranberry sauce to it and hoping that it turns out well. The cranberry apple butter is made using the crock pot so I will turn it on tomorrow before I leave for work. I'm so anxious to smell it! I love coming home to a yummy smelling apartment.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Let's Get Ready To...

This year I'm hosting Thanksgiving for my in-laws. This was a random decision that Steve and I made when we learned he had to work Thanksgiving evening. I love the holidays and decided that there was no reason we couldn't have a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. We decided to invite his parents and twin brother to celebrate with us. We've been planning this for a month. I've asked my grandma for advice on turkeys, cranberry sauce and jell-o layer salad. I've even called her from the grocery store. She has been very patient with me and given me all of her secrets. Most of the secrets are "follow the directions" and "keep it simple". Today I premade what I could. I assembled the green bean casserole. I made both pumpkin and apple pies. Steve made squash and I made the cranberry sauce. I also made the jell-o salad. There's only one layer to go and it will be done. The table is set and a card table is out in anticipation of how much food we're going to have. I did spread a white tablecloth on the card table to make it look a little better. Grandma's decorative pilgrims have been given a place of honor next to my other grandparents' wedding picture... have to keep my family in the dinner somehow! The cranberries made a fun popping sound as I was making the cranberry sauce. Oh the little things. Lol! The pie crust almost killed me but me being my mother's daughter, I refuse to give in and buy pie crust. Gross. I think the pies turned out alright. The green bean casserole needs the French-fried onions sprinkled on it tomorrow and it can be popped into the oven with the turkey. Oh the turkey... I've never made a turkey before. But there is a first time for everything. I keep telling myself that even if it doesn't go according to plan, it'll make a great story. And I love a good story. I'm also doing something most of my family members have not done... cooking Thanksgiving dinner! My grandma has cooked it every year since before I was born. It makes me a little happy to think that I'm taking on a challenge that most of my family (including my mom!) hasn't done. Wish me luck!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Cookie Swap and Family Recipes

A couple of weeks ago, I hosted a cookie swap. My cookie swap was by no means a traditional cookie swap. With a traditional cookie swap, the participants bake their cookies at home and bring them to the swap. I decided it was more fun to bake all of the cookies together at my apartment... and I was right! My sister-in-law and niece came from Sioux Falls. A couple of my college friends, who I don't see enough, came as well as a couple of friends that I see fairly often. My kitchen was armed with 2 Kitchenaid mixers (the holy grail of kitchens), measuring cups, cooling racks and any other baking necessity we thought necessary. I bought new spatulas and wooden spoons for the event. I needed them and had put off buying them... the swap finally gave me a reason to get them. A great time was had by all as we measured, mixed, scooped batter, talked and laughed. I was very happy and relieved to see that the group mixed well. Each participant knew one other person other than me but not everyone. My college friends stayed long after everyone else had gone home. We reminisced about college days and laughed at the fun we had. We also talked about life after college and the many surprises (some pleasant, others not) that had occurred. It was great fun and I look forward to seeing them again.

This past weekend I went home for my little sister's play. Side note: the play was fantastic and I was extremely proud of her. I stayed at my grandma's house and was able to talk turkey with her... literally. I'm hosting Thanksgiving for my in-laws this year and needed advice. I've never made a turkey before and wanted my grandma's secrets. Her big secret: get the Reynold's cooking bags and follow the directions. I also needed her secret for the cranberry sauce. My little sister loves it and even though, she's not going to be at my Thanksgiving, I wanted my family traditions to be there. Grandma looked at me and said "Buy the Ocean Spray cranberries and follow the directions." All these years, I thought these were secret family recipes and I could have easily gone to the grocery store and gotten them! When I arrived at Grandma's, she had made some cookies for her church's annual bazaar and let me have some. The cookies were delicious and when I asked for the recipe, she said it was in the family cookbook. This posed a little problem for me. I had the family cookbook years ago but between moving to college and then to my own apartment and having some momentos at my parents' house, I can't find my copy. When I told Grandma, she promptly went to the cupboard and got my great-grandma's copy. Great Grandma was such a treasure to our family and still is. Great Grandma and I shared a special bond and I miss her tremedously. Great Grandma had written notes in her family cookbook so I have her recipe notes written in her beautiful hand-writing. I will treasure this cookbook forever and never lose it.