Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Home Decor

Most of our holiday funds for Thanksgiving have gone into the meal and we're mostly making due with what we have to decorate our home for our guests. Thanksgiving this year is BYOC, bring your own chair themed, since we only have 5 dining chairs at the new house. We'll have the dining room set up for 6 and the second half off our living room easily converts to an extension of the dining room with a folding table and chairs.

We have gotten ready with a few small purchases:

  • Paper placemats (West Elm, 50 for $23)
  • New table cloth (Homegoods, $10)
  • New table runner (Homegoods, $14)
  • Additional stemless wine glasses to make 12 (Target, 8 for $20)
  • The dining row art update was free once again by raiding my scrapbook stash

Other than that we've kept it very simple to allow room on the tables for all the great food. We serve buffet style from the stove top, in case your curious. The only trays of food that will be put out on the table will be the rolls, cranberries sauce, butter, and gravy.
And there will be plenty of wine glasses - and even some of these?!

How cute is that?! That's all Matt.  We made our own hard cider for the occasion and he likes to serve it to me all fancied up.  I love him.

Happy Turkey Day to you and your family.  I may not have a chance to post again until we're done.  Today will be a good day of lots of veggie prep.  So excited!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Thanksgiving Day Time Line

Sorry for the pause in the Thanksgiving planning guides, we took a mini trip to Malibu but are glad to be home again today

It's the calm before the storm, except for the battleground known as the grocery store we fought through today. The last mild day before cooking the Turkey Day feast. Monday and Tuesdays will be long days in the office, and Wednesday will be a day of perfecting knife skills dicing and chopping to prepare.

Today I want to share with you the day of time line for the cook. I think it's a good guide, but like I mentioned before, I've never cooked Thanksgiving dinner so I'm not sure of the results yet.

This is based on Matt and I getting a Turkey Trot in before the cooking starts, and of course it's all based on roasting an 18lb bird for 4.5 hours.

8:30 am: leave for Turkey Trot, race is at 9, home no later than 10

10:00 am:
  • Preheat oven to 450
  • Prep Bird by melting 1/2 stick of butter and soaking cheese cloth in it
  • Place in cavity: onions, rosemary, lemons. Season skin sign salt and pepper.
  • Cover breast meat area with butter soaked cheese cloth, truss and bake for 45 minutes at 450
11:00 am: drop oven temp to 325, catch up with the mornings dishes

Noon: Guest may start arriving, Matt to put out the appetizers and beverages

1:00 pm: Everyone out of the Kitchen!
  • Start and finish stuffing - goes in baking dish to be baked later
  • Catch up dishes
  • Get stock on the stove (keeping stock on for gravy and it makes a great bandaid if something doesn't come out great
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Buttered turnip
2:30 - 3:00pm Bird out of oven:
  • In go the rolls and stuffing, after 25 minutes bump oven to 375
  • Matt preheats the grill and stats bacon wrapped potato spears
  • Pearl onions on stove
  • Candied carrots on stove
  • Make gravy
  • Cave bird after resting it for a half hour under tinfoil
3:30pm: Dinner!

Maybe I'm nuts, but I'm just trying to be prepared.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Thanksgiving Grocery List!

Have you been following the Thanksgiving posts so far?  Please leave a comment if you are - I'm curious!
So far we've shared The Menu and our "Way in Advance" List

Next up I'm sharing the grocery list for the big event.  First you have a refresher of the menu with links to the recipes I'll be using.  The last four items I made up - unfortunately you'll have to wait until after thanksgiving for me to post those.  Second is the grocery list - get what you can now! We've purchased all our non perishables - but we're headed to California for a few days tomorrow night and wont be able to do the rest of the shopping until the Sunday before! We will put our battle gear on - Market Basket - the grocery store - is sure to be insane!

The Menu
§  Brown Sugar Candied Carrots
§  Farm Fresh Green Beans w/ sour cream lemon dressing
§  Apple Cider Braised Pearl Onions & Leeks
§  Tuscan Loaf Baked Stuffing

Grocery List

§  Onions – 8 (good to have on hand)
§  Celery
§  Pearl Onions
§  Leeks (garden)
§  Chives (garden)
§  Rosemary (garden)
§  Lemons – 4
§  Sweet Potatoes - 5
§  Russet potatoes – 5
§  Turnip – 3
§  Thyme
§  Green Beans
§  Carrots
§  Loaf of Fresh Bread

§  Unsalted Butter – and A LOT of it
§  Bacon
§  Whole Milk – 1 qt
§  Heavy Cream
§  Sour Cream
§  Sausage

§  Flour
§  Yeast
§  Sugar
§  Brown Sugar
§  Honey

§  Turkey
§  Chipolte peppers in adobo
§  White wine
§  Cheese Cloth

     What prep have you finished? Has anyone started their grocery shopping? Does anyone want to do our for us?

Thanksgiving @ 18 Preston - The Way in Advance List

Yesterday we shared our Turkey Day Menu.

To get ready for a feast like this - and to be able to execute this meal myself, it takes some serious preparations.  The list I'm sharing today is the "Way in Advance" list.  And by way in advance I mean before the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.  (Unless it's a frozen turkey - then you better pick one up this week and get your defrosting on!)  While I'm writing some of these posts I'm actually taking up some valuable prep time.  But here is my list that I plan on having complete before the Sunday before Thanksgiving:

  • Guest List Confirmed - a count is helpful to order the turkey.  I went with 1.5lbs per person
  • Order the Bird - I placed my order with a local butcher for a fresh turkey, I don't want to be defrosting one 
  • Table linens & serving wear collected - I washed all my dishes this past weekend that  had been in the china cabinet for a while, we don't use 12 plates very often.  And since this is my first Thanksgiving I purchased some table linens and a set of 12 stemless wine glasses
  • Grocery Shopping - non perishables.  The store is going to be nuts leading up to the big day, get anything you can out of the way early.
  • What Other can Bring List - your guest will start asking what then can bring.  Have your menu ready and a list of answers you can give them.  Leave this by the phone so you husband can just read off the list when he's speaking with your guests too.     Our list includes:
    • appetizers
    • wine
    • dessert
  • Make Ahead Items - I have a few things I am comfortable making way ahead.
    • herbed goat cheese - for pre meal apps
    • herbed butter - sage and brown butter for rolls and gravy
    • rosemary salt - to season the turkey
    • rolls - I use this recipe, freeze them as instructed and cook from frozen 
  • Plan the Time Line - I'm really glad I got this out of the way early - I'll be sharing mine the weekend before the big day - stay tuned.
What have you checked off your list?  

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Thanksgiving @18 Preston - The Menu

We've decided to make Thanksgiving a big deal over here on the blog.  We don't post often - due to a hectic schedule and only wanting to share quality information and photos.  That being said, I am tackling cooking the Thanksgiving meal for the very first time this year and want to share my prep plan as I get ready to host my favorite Holiday of all time.

The Plan: 12 guests - we're getting together both sets of parents for the first time since our wedding!
The Place: Our new home - 6 in the dining room and 6 in one half of our living room converted to a temporary dining room
The Time: we're planning a 3:30 dinner time
The Bird: we've ordered a fresh turkey which we will pick up the Sunday before Thanksgiving to start prepping
To brine or not to brine: we will not be brining our bird

The Menu

§  Parker House Rolls w/ Spent Grain

§  Rosemary Lemon Turkey

§  Chipotle Mashed Sweet Potatoes

§  Potato Spears Wrapped in Bacon w/ Honey Chive drizzle

§  Butter Turnip w/ homegrown Lemon Thyme

§  Brown Sugar Candied Carrots

§  Farm Fresh Green Beans w/ sour cream lemon dressing

§  Apple Cider Braised Pearl Onions & Leeks

§  Tuscan Loaf Baked Stuffing

     We'd love for you to follow along in the days leading up to Thanksgiving.  We will be sharing our prep lists, grocery list, links to all of the recipes for most of our menu, Thanksgiving Day timeline, and the tips and tricks we picked up that we're planning on implementing on the big day. 

     Who else is this excited about the best holiday of the year? If you're not - I hope this menu has you drooling enough to jump on board.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Veggie Garden Update

I can't believe I haven't updated you on the vegetable garden since June!
Well - before I give you the current update, lets look at the progress for my first year with a garden.

In the spring, we prepared for our first Vegetable Garden by building a raised planting bed and having soil delivered.
April/May 2012
In June we started to see progress in the garden.  The tomato plant is covered in flowers and the squash are starting to grow like weeds.
June 2012
By the end of July the Garden Exploded.  I had to rip out some of my squash before they killed each other, I had dozens and dozens of tomatoes, and a bounty of basil.
July/August 2012
And this is the garden today - November 7, 2012.  We'll, not quite today.  This was before SuperStorm Sandy and, well - it's currently snowing right now!!!
November 2012
The cold frame did survive Sandy.  We do not have a tutorial on it - it's trapping and painters plastic.  We're going to improve the design next year.

In side we have more swiss chard, mixed greens, garlic, scallions, arugala, and kale growing.  Most leafy veggies don't mind the snow and the heat the cold frame traps will keep them healthy through the winter - I hope! I'll continue to provide updates!
November 2012
Is anyone else crazy like me and still have a New England vegetable garden going in November?  Is anyone else appalled at the snow outside in Massachusetts right now?!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween 2012 @18 Preston

We were super excited for our first Halloween in the new house and it did not disappoint.  We had about thirty or so trick-or-treaters, and they were all so polite and had great costumes!  It would be creepy to take photos of other people's kids - so you'll have to look through our decor (which fell under our cheap and easy project list) and costumes! 

Below is the broom I made! The lights are red Christmas Lights, the skeleton was an old decoration we had, and we purchased the mums and pumpkin with coupons and discounts.

A Dining Room Art Update.  This was FREE.  I used leftover black scrapbook paper and
 printed free Halloween printables I found here onto card stock from the stash.

The Spiders on magnets were a Pinterest inspired project found on the 
blog Delia Creates.  They were a huge success.

The window shadows were probably my favorite. I found these on Better Home and Garden website. The templates were free and I only needed to buy the black poster board.  I loved how they looked back lit with lamps.  I don't have pictures, but the kitchen window had Frankenstein and Dracula. 

 And the Costumes!  Matt was Abraham Lincoln the Vampire Hunter.  The shirt was a Marshall's purchase, just so he wouldn't mess up his nice white french cuff shirt at the Halloween party we went to on Saturday night.  The hat was $12 at a costume shop, bow tie was also purchased at Marshall's and everything else we had!  The rather large wood stake was in the garden holding up my tomatoes this summer - it's bloodied up with a red sharpie.  It's big because we needed something proportioned to Matt, he's tall without a top hat.

And I apparently chose one of the most popular adult costumes of 2012.  There were two others at the party we went to!  I can't say any of us was better than the other, but if we pooled all our items together, it would have made a great Katniss Everdeen.  I do need to point out, I was the only one with the braid.  Which you can't see in this photo.  Bummer.

And that folks is Halloween 2012 at 18 Preston.  Next up - Thanksgiving! Which is my favorite Holiday next to the 4th of July.  Let the planning begin.