I feel like I am living in this weird place of transition. I'm no longer the mom of littles, I've retired from my roles as team mom, room parent and Halloween costume maker. Sure they still "need" my wonderfully articulate and insightful mom advice from time to time but they don't rely on me for daily food and transportation anymore. If I'm being honest, most of the time they get my advice even when they DON'T ask for it.
For so long, I've operated under the titles of Ryan's mom, Courtney's mom and Ben's wife. I love being ALL of those things but I feel like there's been a swing in the pendulum. I am no longer referred to as someones mom anymore. So who am I now?
This identity crisis first occurred to me when I was handed a stack of forms to fill out at my last doctors appointment. That little box that wanted me to list my occupation had me stumped. I stared at it for a long time while I debated what to put in that empty space.
My kids don't live at home anymore but I'm still a mom. I have a personal chef license - does that make me a chef? I own a little baking business but I don't think of myself as a businesswoman. And after 8 years, I'm guess I'm sticking with this food blogging thing so I technically I could have listed blogger as my occupation. But, since I don't receive any compensation for my blog anymore, I feel like it's more of a hobby than an occupation.
So how did I fill out that empty space on my form? After much deliberation I finally decided to leave it completely blank. I could have written baker, chef, caterer, business owner or food blogger but I don't feel like any one of those accurately describes my occupation. The problem wasn't that I didn't have an occupation to claim. The problem was that I have too many jobs to fit on that little one inch line. I may not consider myself to be a professional anything but I have a LOT of occupations.
So here I am, mother of two, wife of one and owner of a little baking business who loves to blog. (Too bad there isn't enough room to write all of that little line on the form.) My love of cooking permeates through most of my occupations. I spend a lot of time cooking for blog posts, for catering jobs and for my own family. One of my latest creations was this reduced sugar Sweet Potato Casserole.
Sweet Potato Casserole
3 pounds sweet potatoes
1/2 cup evaporated milk
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 eggs, separated
3/4 cup walnuts
3/4 cup rolled oats
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
Bake 40-50 minutes at 350.
I made this sweet potato casserole in October and I put it in the freezer for a couple of weeks so that I could save it for Thanksgiving. I pulled it out of the freezer and transferred it to the refrigerator on the Monday before Thanksgiving so that it would defrost and then I baked it on Thanksgiving morning. It was really, really good and not overly sweet like some other sweet potato casseroles that I've tried in the past.
Just imagine gathering up all of your favorite local restaurants in one place where you could sample all of their best dishes. That would be incredible, right? Well last month, my dream came true. I first heard about this amazing event called the "Taste of Monroe" on Facebook and I bought tickets immediately. All of my favorite local restaurants (and future restaurants) were represented -- and they all brought samples!!!
Our ticket price covered all of the tastings. There was everything from beer and wine samples to honey fried chicken with collards to waffle house waffles. And yes, I sampled it all. You didn't think that I would pass up a hot fudge sundae from Scoops, did you?
From top to bottom and left to right
Shrimp and Grits from South on Broad
Mr. Jones Burger from LR Burger
Broccoli and Cheddar Soup from Panera
Asiago Cheese Bagel Bites from Panera
Bok Choy Broth from Bruce's Sweet Shop
Barbecued Chicken from Shanes Rib Shack
Honey Fried Chicken and Collards over Cornbread from The Monroe Country Club
Pesto Shrimp Chip from Silver Queen
Honey Hot Boneless Chicken Wing from Amicis
Buffalo Chicken Dip and Chicken Salad from the Cotton Cafe
Waffles from Waffle House
Hot Fudge Sundae from Scoops
Toffee Marshmallow from Scoops
Vanilla Cupcake with Chocolate Buttercream from Bruce's Sweet Shop
Cupcake Display from Posh Cupcakery
My personal favorite was the Shrimp and Grits from South on Broad. I didn't think that I was a grits fan but this was so good that I found myself desperately trying to scrape the last of the grits out of the bottom of my cup with my empty shrimp tail. It was THAT good.
It was really interesting to see what each restaurant chose to offer as their "taste" at the event. Just imagine that you could only offer someone one taste from the repertoire of things that you make in your own kitchen. What would it be?
Thanksgiving dinner at the Davis house this year was a compilation of talents. I asked each guest to contribute their best dish to the meal. Roll baking duty always goes to my mom because - well, we can all agree that she's the roll master. My MIL brought stuffing and cranberries. And, after I passed out all of the cooking assignments for the dinner - there really wasn't much left for me to make.
Thanks to a willing sister in law - I didn't even have to make the green beans for Thanksgiving this year. I actually like to make green beans but blogging a new recipe with a house full of dinner guests while entertaining on Thanksgiving is a recipe for disaster - trust me. I made these beans for Ben and I a couple of weeks after Thanksgiving and we really enjoyed them.
I am especially thankful for everyone who contributed to our Thanksgiving meal this year. Pulling together our best dishes is a great way to put on a great meal.
Green Beans Amandine
8 ounces haricots verts
2 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup sliced almonds
2 Tablespoons water
1/4 cup thinly sliced shallot
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Did anyone else mistakenly refer to these green beans as "almondine"? I've made other versions of this recipe for years and I've always referred to them as green beans almondine. My bad. It does make me wonder though, how many of my other recipes I've been pronouncing incorrectly.
Thanksgiving and turkeys are synonymous. Like baseball and hot dogs, birthdays and cake, you can't think about Thanksgiving without thinking about the turkey. Giant turkeys are the centerpiece of countless tables around the country on Thanksgiving Day. Not only that, its the stuff that great leftovers are made of. Turkey sandwiches, soups, salads and casseroles - the delicious sustenance that gets us through the week following Thanksgiving.
Our turkey may take center stage on our Thanksgiving table but there is no shortage of great side dishes and desserts to indulge in too. Sweet potato soufflé, green bean casserole, freshly baked rolls, pumpkin pie, pecan squares - I have to be strategic to even fit it all on my normal sized dinner plate. I do some serious prioritizing so that I can manage to taste a little bit of everything before I get too full. The Thanksgiving struggle is real.
So why am I talking about Thanksgiving turkey in the middle of the summer? We're at least 3 months away from our next great Thanksgiving meal. It's because I don't feel like I can fully appreciate the turkey on Thanksgiving because there is so much other great food to consume. AND I just love turkey so much that I make one every couple of months. Turns out all those great leftovers are just as delicious even when we're not in a post holiday slump.
My recipe for herb, lemon and garlic turkey is a perfectly simple way to prepare a turkey any time of year. It can be prepped a day in advance and then roasted on the day that you want to serve the deliciously juicy bird. This recipe is so easy but your family will think your a turkey rockstar.
Herb, Lemon and Garlic Turkey
14 pound turkey
1 Tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
6 sprigs each rosemary, thyme and sage
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 bunch flat leaf parsley
1 head garlic, halved
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1/4 cup chopped chives
4 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon pepper
Serve turkey with gravy.
Slice and enjoy.
You've probably figured out by now that I made a turkey breast instead of a whole turkey like indicated on the recipe. The only reason that I did that was because I could not find a whole turkey anywhere! Apparently, I'm the only person cooking turkeys in August. Oh well, turns out a turkey breast works just as well with this recipe.
I find that even people who are not regular blog followers will seek out recipes, tips and advice for Thanksgiving menus. (I am no exception either.) It's the one holiday where the food takes center stage and everyone wants to present their very best recipes to their guests. It's no wonder that we look to the internet for inspiration for our Thanksgiving meal.
If you're a regular follower or just a curious Thanksgiving browser who happened to land on my website - welcome. I hope that you will take a minute to browse my step by step illustrated Tuscan turkey recipe and then sign up to follow my blog on Facebook or email. (or both)
If you have any questions about your Thanksgiving turkey, feel free to leave me a comment. I'll do my best to get your questions answered as quickly as possible.
3 garlic heads
6 Tablespoon butter
1/4 cup chopped sage
1 Tablespoon grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
1 whole turkey
5 sage sprigs
1 lemon, halved
1 onion, quartered
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup white wine
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
Reduce oven temperature to 350 Bake another 1 hour. Baste turkey with remaining mixture.
Bake 10-20 minutes longer or until turkey registers 165. Remove from oven. Cover and let stand 20 minutes.
If you find that you need more immediate help with your turkey, you can always access the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line or give them a call at 1-800-BUTTERBALL (1-800-288-8372). There is really no excuse for NOT trying to cook a turkey this year.
It's apple season. I always get overly excited about apple season. Am I the only person who gets sucked into the over the top apple displays at the grocery stores and then buys way more apples and cider than you could possibly consume? Apparently, I'm a dream shopper for the marketing department at my grocery store.
I come home from the grocery store and fill the basket on my counter with all of the delicious red, green and yellow fruit in hopes that the sight of it will encourage me to make better snack choices. Let me be honest - that doesn't always happen BUT we do eat a lot of apples.
No matter how many apples we eat, I always seem to end up with an excess of fruit and cider. When the apples need to be eaten - I bake pies. But the question is, what can I do with the extra cider?
I normally make apple cider doughnuts to use up extra cider but I would love to hear your ideas for leftover cider too. I recently tried a new recipe for Apple Cider Cupcakes. These cupcakes were really delicious and when topped with a sweet apple chip, they are beautiful too.
Apple Cider Cupcakes
Bake 24 minutes at 350.
Top with a swirl of cream cheese frosting and an apple chip.
Admittedly, I went a little (or a lot) overboard with the apple cider cupcake pictures. I just couldn't help myself.
If you've got a sweet tooth like me, you should probably make an extra batch of the sweet apple chips too. They make a great snack. There's nothing like soaking a perfectly good piece of fruit in sugar until it doesn't even resemble anything remotely healthy. Either as a cupcake topper or a sweet snack - you'll love these little treats.
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