Getting Ready For Thanksgiving

Is it just me, or does Thanksgiving seem exceptionally early this year? No matter, it is happening in a matter of days! I have an extra day to prepare to prepare this week. Laura is home sick from school today, which means – of course – I am home with her instead of at work. I’ve been taking advantage of the time to get a few things done well in advance.

This year for the first time since Drew and I have been together, we will not be with relatives — it will just be the five of us! For many years we either went to my mother-in-law’s house or my parents’ house. Several years ago I took over cooking the meal and everyone usually comes here. But this year, my mother-in-law is spending the week in N. Carolina with Drew’s brother, wife, and her family. My dad had eye surgery today so they are staying put in Massachusetts. Dare I say I am kind of looking forward to a quiet day?

I do love me some Thanksgiving, so of course I will still be preparing a traditional dinner! Here’s what my menu looks like this year: 

Appetizers:
Holiday cheeseball with crackers and salami
Crab rangoon
Sliced tomatoes with basil, fresh mozzarella, and balsamic drizzle
Stuffed mushrooms

Main & Sides:
Roast turkey with pan gravy
Sausage and cranberry stuffing
Mashed potatoes
Asparagus
Green beans, wax bean, and carrot medley
Cranberry sauce
Olive & rosemary bread

Desserts:
Apple pie with crumb topping
Magic pecan pie

This should be more than enough food for us. Unfortunately, the smallest turkey I was able to find at the sale price I wanted, was just under 14-lbs. I usually do a 12-lb turkey for seven of us, but that just means more leftovers! I’m switching up my timeline too. Usually we eat around 1 or so. But this year I think we will eat around 3:30-4:00 so we’re not totally full of appetizers.

I also fully intend to spend the entire day in my pyjamas. 

Today I made the stuffing and the cheeseball. (I’ve been meaning to share the recipe for this cheeseball for years… maybe its time has finally come!) I also cleaned out the fridge and organized it a bit. Tomorrow I will prepare the turkey with the dry brine/dry rub/whatever you choose to call it, and make the pecan pie. I am going to do the mashed potatoes in my Instant Pot (they come out perfect in there) so I may or may not do those early. And the bread I will make in my bread machine on Thanksgiving so it is super fresh and warm!

What’s on your menu this year? I hope you’ll share in the comments — I love reading about everyone’s family traditions!

Hook ‘Em & Cook ‘Em

It’s always fun when your boys come home from a deep sea fishing excursion at 2 in the morning and plop down two enormous bags of their catches on the counter! I kid you not, friends. Monday Jake and Noah went fishing off the coast of Niantic, CT with their Boy Scout troop and, well… I guess it was a good day for fishing!

I had never really heard of Porgy before, but then again I don’t cook a lot of fish at home, so I don’t venture further than cod, salmon, shrimp, and haddock. But, after dividing up 6 dinners’ worth of Porgy (nearly 8 lbs), I expect that I will soon be an expert on its preparation!

Deep sea fishing

Of course we had for dinner last night. It’s not often we have fresh-off-the-boat seafood, so I was curious to try it. First, I looked up the fish and was relieved to learn it’s a mild, delicate fish. Some people compare it to Red Snapper. I’ve never tried that, so I can’t agree or disagree.

The fish do have a LOT of little bones, even though they were filleted at the dock. Luckily they aren’t too hard to pick out and we got most of them.

For my first time preparing Porgies, I decided to go super-simple. I just seasoned with salt, pepper, and Mrs. Dash, then coated them with seasoned flour, an egg wash, and crushed corn flakes. Then I baked the filets until they were flaky

Baked Porgie

Baked Porgie

Baked Porgie

I served them with lemon wedges and tarter sauce… nothing fancy!

Baked Porgie
So, the question is… What do Porgies take like? Well, they are pretty mild, but “fishier” than, say, haddock. Personally, they’re not something I’d go out of my way to get but they were better than I expected. Noah loved them, actually.

I think these Porgies would be yummy deep-fried, and maybe I’ll try that at another point this summer. Have you ever had them? What’s your favorite way to cook porgies? I’m all ears!

Quick & Easy Onion Rolls

So much for spring! I’m eager for daffodils and sunshine and a little bit of warmth, but today it is still freezing and were are again expecting a snow storm. It is the perfect day to make a big pot of soup, and today I am sharing with you a recipe that pairs well with a big bowl of yumminess. Check out these Quick & Easy Onion Rolls.

I love the flavor of onion rolls, but sometimes the ones you buy at the store are just too big — they are sandwich-sized. My rolls are made in a muffin tin (yes, really!) and one or two is the perfect serving. Don’t forget to slather on some good butter!

Quick & Easy Onion Rolls

2 1/2 c AP Flour
3 Tbsp. dry onion soup mix
1 pkg. active dry yeast
1 c. warm water
2 Tbsp sugar
2Tbsp olive oil
1 egg

In a large mixer bow combine 1 1/2 c flower, onion soup mix, and yeast. In a small mixing bowl combine water, sugar, and oil. Add water mixture to flour mixture; add egg. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 sec. constantly scraping down sides of bowl. Beat on high for 3 minu. Using a spoon, stir in remaining flour. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double (30 min)

Spoon batter into 12 greased muffin cups. Cover and let rise until nearly double (25 min). Bake in a 375 degree oven for 15-18 min. or until lightly browned. Remove rolls from pan. Cool on wire rack.

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They are also delicious for breakfast with a cup of coffee! I hope you enjoy!

 

Recipe | Best London Broil Marinade

Best London Broil Marinade

It is no secret that I love steak. Like, seriously LOVE steak. Given the choice of anything on the menu at a restaurant, I would probably always go with some cut of beef. But let’s face it — steak isn’t always the cheapest option. I try to pick less expensive cuts when I am shopping for my family and one of my go-tos in London Broil.

Several times over this summer I was able to purchase it very inexpensively with a store coupon, so I stocked up when I could. Now I’ve heard quite a few people say they dislike London Broil because it can be tough. And that’s very true. But if you know a great marinade recipe and you know the right way to cut it, London Broil is one of the best things in the world!

Best London Broil Marinade
Just look at that deliciousness! We have made this London Broil for so many family events (and one Cub Scout BBQ) and it is always met with empty plates and people asking for seconds. It tastes fantastic at room temperature, so I will often grill it early in the day to save time.

Best London Broil Marinade
Today I’m sharing my secret recipe. This recipe originated with my mother-in-law’s friend Connie, and it’s gone through a few slight tweaks as it was passed on to her, and then Drew. (And now most of the time I make it.) It’s so simple, you will wonder how it can possibly be so amazing!

London Broil

Best London Broil Marinade

1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tsp. Worstershire sauce
2-3 garlic cloves, diced  or 1-2 Tbsp. minced garlic in oil
Peppercorns

Whisk together brown sugar, olive oil, soy sauce, and Worstershire sauce. Stir in garlic and add peppercorns. Place steak in a large Ziplock bag or container. Pour marinade over steak and let it marinade for at least a day. I’ve let it go two or three days. Grill to your liking (medium-well is my preference). Allow the London Broil to rest for at least 10 minutes before thinly slicing on the bias.

Oh, one more great thing to do with this recipe? Freeze the steak in the marinade. It saves time because as the meat thaws, the marinade flavors it. And let’s face it — we all need that simple meal in our freezer that doesn’t take a lot of effort. Just add baked potatoes and a salad or some microwaved veggies and you are good to go!

Best London Broil Marinade

Recipe | Bow Ties with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe

Bowtie Pasta with Sausage & Broccoli Rabe

Quite a number of years ago I had a separate recipe blog on my website. I eventually decided to just start posting the recipes here, and took the recipe blog offline. The other day I was going through those recipes I had posted and realized there were so many dishes I haven’t made in a while. This particular recipe had been in regular rotation when I was pregnant with Jacob (that goes to show how long it’s been!).

Bowtie Pasta with Sausage & Broccoli RabeI think it was my mother-in-law who first made this dish, and I got the recipe from her. Italian sausage and broccoli rabe happened to be on sale this week, so it made for a frugal dinner that everyone loved!

Bowtie Pasta with Sausage & Broccoli RabeAs summer starts to wind down into fall, simple, cozy recipes like this one are perfect. Easy enough for a weeknight, but great for entertaining, too. While my family prefers hot Italian sausage, you can certainly use a combination of hot and sweet or mild Italian sausage. 

Bowtie Pasta with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe

Bowtie Pasta with Sausage & Broccoli Rabe

1 lb bow tie pasta
1 (1-lb) bunch broccoli rabe, tough ends trimmed, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 lb. hot Italian sausage, casings removed
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 Tbsp. crushed red pepper
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. each salt and black pepper
Grated Parmesan or Romano cheese for garnish

In large pot of boiling, salted water, cook pasta according to pkg directions, adding broccoli rabe 3 min. before pasta is finished cooking. When pasta is firm but tender and broccoli rabe is tender, reserve 1/2 cup cooking water. Drain pasta and broccoli rabe and return to the pot.

While pasta and broccoli rabe are cooking, cook the sausage in large skillet over med-high heat, breaking up clumps with wooden spoon, until the sausage is browned. Add garlic and crushed red pepper; saute for another minute or until fragrant.

Add the sausage, the reserved 1/2 cup cooking water, the olive oil, salt and pepper to pasta-broccoli rabe mixture in pot. Toss to coat pasta evenly. Serve with grated cheese on the side.