Tag Archives: thanksgiving

Holiday Wrap Up

The one year anniversary of our last post is coming up, so we thought it would be as a good a time as any to dig this blog out of its grave. A recap of the holidays seems appropriate.

Knowing that I was going to be taking a rip to China for two weeks during Thanksgiving, led me to organize a little Friendsgiving a few weeks before I took off. I was originally thinking of inviting around 10 folks, but since I had a new roommate who wasn’t around and gave me more control of the common areas, 25 people ended up accepting an invite and 19 people showed up. It was the first time I was hosting so it felt like a good opportunity to go big. One thing that helped was that I didn’t take a vacation day from work in 2012 until late October so I had plenty of time to prepare. I had the Friday off before the party (on a Sunday), but the total prep time stretched to the weeks before hand.

Friendsgiving

3 weeks out-send out invitations, start planning menu (the fun stuff)

2 weeks out-trim down menu, begin shopping lists

6 days before party-regret decision to host, buy alcohol

5 days before party-buy pantry goods, dry ingredients, turkey

4 days before party-plan out prep and cooking schedule, assign dishes to pots and pans

3 days before party-clean, set up chairs and tables out of storage

2 days before party-brine turkey, buy fresh foods, prep and make apps, soup, desserts, snacks, beast mode

1 day before party-air dry turkey, cook majority of side dishes, beast mode, panic attack

day of party-showtime

Luckily, my sister and her husband came a few hours early to help out with the last of the prep so the afternoon was a lot less stressful. The final menu looked like this:

Appetizers

White bean dip, roasted garlic hummus, pita chips with oregano, brie and gouda cheese plate, stuffed mushrooms, deviled eggs

Soups

Chilled potato leek soup with pesto genovese, southwest squash soup with ancho cream and toasted pumpkin seeds

Main

Roasted turkey, beef stew with herbed dumplings

Sides

Jalapeno cheddar biscuits, cornbread, apple sausage stuffing, mushroom leek stuffing, green bean casserole, braised red cabbage, spaghetti squash with cranberries, mashed potatoes, quinoa with caramelized onions and mushroom, mac n cheese, gravy

Desserts

Apple pie, pumpkin cheesecake, vanilla ice cream, chocolate coconut ice cream

Take Home Snacks

Cracker jacks, peanut clusters, candied pecans, gingersnaps

Some of the recipes were from the 6 week cooking course I took at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts in the fall.  I cooked for two and a half days straight days. It was exhausting, but also so damn satisfying. It was my greatest culinary achievement to date. No regrets.


Mandatory Smiles for the Most Part

China- Yunnan Province and Shanghai

Moving on to my trip to China, the food was unremarkable, since we were on a tour group and ate rather generic plain food. The only highlights were some lamb and yak skewers at a night market and the signature dish of the Yunnan Province- Cross Bridge Noodles. It is a hot noodle sou, were you put raw, thinly sliced meats, and other toppings along with noodles into a hot bowl of broth with a layer of oil on top. When I went back to Shanghai prior to flaying back to the US, I had the best Beijing Duck (though there are probably better ones out there) in my life at a place near my aunt’s apartment.

Christmas

For Christmas (NJ for a little over a week), I ate a rotation of all the favorites. Dim sum, stir fried noodles, diner fare, pizza, steamed lobsters, hot pot, frozen yogurt and my mom’s home cooking.

New Years

I was back in Boston for New Years and hung out at 28 degrees (cocktails, french fries) for most of the night before heading to Katie’s new place (quiche, the largest shrimp cocktail I’ve ever seen).

I took a look back at my 2012 food resolutions, and I only managed to complete 1.5 of the 5 items I listed so here’s hoping the 2013 list will be more successful.

1. Make Thomas Keller’s fried chicken! (carry over from last year)

2. Make pasta or Asian noodles from scratch (carry over from last year)

3. Make key lime chiffon pie and rice pudding

4. Cook or try a new exotic meat, vegetable and fruit

5. Try sea urchin and Spam

6. Eat at Toro, Island Creek Oyster Bar and RF O’Sullivan’s

7. Visit East Boston for Italian eats and 1 other ethnic cuisine

Happy New Year and be on the look out for more updates!

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Thanksgiving Eats


Turkey Time

I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving and adjusted back to life in the grind today. I had all of week plus today off and was pretty happy with the food I consumed over the break. I got home last Monday, and my dad suggested we go to McDonald’s to get some McRibs. Knowing my parents, such a request was pretty shocking. I declined, and he suggested driving up to Edison so I could try some new Chinese restaurants. The first two we tried were closed so we found ourselves in heaven H Mart. Spacious, clean, reasonably priced and delicious food court options. We got a seafood pancake, a bowl of noodle soup, and some Korean fried chicken. Then, we shopped for lobsters and abalone for a late dinner.

On Tuesday my dad got KFC for lunch. My reality is seriously taking a U-turn. Maybe it was a little Thanksgiving warm up? The mashed potatoes and chicken were as I remembered, but the biscuits weren’t as big or fluffy. Recipe change? Sad face.

On Wednesday, the cooking began after some take out Chinese for lunch. I got started on baking treats for in house snacking, friends and neighbors. First up were Chocolate Chunk Cookies based off Tollhouse Cookies without the walnuts and chunks instead of chips. Next were the office favorite, Cookies n Cream Cupcakes, which friends also enjoyed However, they didn’t get them until 2-3 days after so they dried out a bit in the fridge. Finally, Thanksgiving desserts included Pumpkin Cheesecake and Apple Pie.


Chocolate Chunk Cookies


Cookies N Cream Cupcakes


Pumpkin Cheesecake


Apple Pie

The big day included waffles for brunch with a blackberry topping and fresh blackberries and bananas.


Thanksgiving Brunch

For the big meal, we had a 12 lbs. turkey brined and rubbed with sage, kosher salt and a little rosemary along with a half lemon and cinnamon stick in the cavity. Gravy was made using a roux, chicken stock and soy sauce. This was the most successful gravy I’ve made to date in terms of universal appeal, color, texture and taste. I did feel guilty about cutting out the pan drippings, since I had so much to do. Green bean casserole, dressing, sage and rosemary biscuits, sweet potato mash and spaghetti squash with cranberries rounded out the meal. The green bean casserole was the first time I made it completely from scratch, and while it looked sexy, the fried onions still didn’t measure up to French’s. The dressing was still inferior to Stove Top, but I’m still confident that someday I will have a recipe that will be better. The spaghetti squash was a new addition this year and was inspired by a meal at Oceanarie the week before Thanksgiving. The strands from the squash are pretty cool. When my dad asked if I cut the squash into the strands, I was pretty tempted to say yes. Overall, my dad said it was the best Thanksgiving meal to date that I’ve made, so my constant need for approval was satisfied for the time being.


Sage and Rosemary Biscuits


Spaghetti Squash with Cranberries


Green Bean Casserole


The Spread


Coma on a Plate

On Friday night, I met up with a few friends for burgers at 25 Burgers and had a Bull’s Eye Burger with sweet potato fries. The burger itself was pretty messy and greasy, but it’s the best burger within a 15 minute drive from my house. The onion strings and patty were the highlights, while the bun was lacking. The fries were decent, but the portion was rather small. Overall the burger, fries, and drink were a little over $12.


BBQ Burgers Don’t Know How to Disappoint

The next day, I ate at Shanghai Bun and got some sauteed pork and vegetables with Shanghai noodles, and my friend got chicken and mustard green soup. For dinner, I hung out with a few of my sister’s friends and went to the Olive Garden for the first time. The place was pretty empty when we arrived, but was packed by the time we left. I was definitely surprised with the decor and ambiance, since I always though the commercials were so corny. However, the prices were also higher than I imagined. I was thinking most entrees would be $8-15, but the range was more like $12-$20. The seating was interesting, with wheels on all four legs sliding in every direction. The bread sticks were on the salty side, but you can’t go wrong with unlimited warm bread. For my entree, I got braised short ribs. I’m not 100% confident that it didn’t come out of a bag, but the tenderness of the meat was still enjoyable. Overall, the meal was better than I expected, but at $28 with tax and tip, I’d rather spend my dining out money elsewhere.


If Only Plate of Food Grew on Trees


Healthy Can Taste Good


The Most Perfectly Shaped Breadsticks I’ve Ever Seen in my Life


Braised Short Ribs