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Thanksgiving begins…

Planning our Thanksgiving… as a person who moved over to the US nearly 10 years ago, which believe me seems unbelievable, we were happy to adopt Thanksgiving as our own family tradition too, and now with our own two little Americans we celebrate it for them as well as for us.


I love my slow cooker, it is a must have appliance in my kitchen, for soups, casseroles and just cooking a joint of meat, I use it all the time and it is a Thanksgiving must have for all sorts of dishes.  This year I am going to make a warm soup to start of our meal, I want to use cozy Fall flavors, so I’m thinking a light Jamie Oliver cauliflower and coconut soup, cauliflower is a super food in our house at the moment, we are having cauliflower rice as a replacement for carb laden additions to meals and I just love anything with coconut added, so it seemed a perfect choice to add warmth and is sure to give me leftovers for the next few days.

My family are all huge ham lovers, so ham it is, with a little turkey on the side… I do not like handling meat so I will buy a pre-prepared turkey breast.  My plan this year is to cook the meats on the grill outside, it doesn’t matter the weather, snow, hail, rain I plan to fire up that grill, I had enough practice over the summer months cooking everything on the grill, without a kitchen, so it should be fun, and of course less mess in my new oven 😃

I’m a huge cheat when it comes to the potatoes for dinner, Costco do a fantastic tray of the lightest most buttery mashed potato, they even have a tray of sweet potatoes too, and they are both organic always a plus, 8 minutes in the microwave, stir, another 8 minutes in the microwave then stir again… serve, easy peasy. As for the other veggies, they have yet to be decided, it could even be a nice big warm Fall salad, one of my favorite meals when the weather turns chilly.


I will be making another Jamie Oliver recipe Gluten free cornbread, American style, I have become a huge fan of cornbread since moving over here, it’s easy and quick to make, you can add in anything you like for flavor and it all cooks in my cast iron skillets, making it perfect with soups, casseroles and my Thanksgiving  feast.

As for the stuffing and gravy it’s a must, I am a fan of making my own fresh stuffing but my children like the boxed kind, oh well it’s easy, so who am I to argue too much, but the gravy is always homemade, I will be using my own bone broth, and gluten free thickener this year so it should be interesting. 


I have been asked to make a salted caramel apple pie again this year for desert, so who am I to refuse, I’ll cheat a little again with buying a store bought crust and jarred caramel sauce, although both are easy to make, it’s just easier but the apples and crisp/crumble topping will be organic and homemade… perfection!


Finally Black Friday sandwiches have become a tradition in our house, many, many years ago we visited Portsmouth in England for a little shopping trip, right in the center of the Mall was a little stand that had roast meats perfected, they served them in warm bread topped with stuffing and homemade gravy, it was on that day many years before we moved to the US that the Black Friday leftover sandwich was invented, we just didn’t know it back then.  We have been having this sandwich on Black Friday ever since our first Thanksgiving over here, it is more important in our house than the dinner that precedes it, so I always have to make sure there will be enough leftovers which in our house can be difficult. These days this leftover sandwich is all over Food Network at this time of year, but I like to think I invented it way back when many years ago in the little sea town of Portsmouth in England… well that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

The Black Friday Sandwich my way…

Take all the leftovers, stuffing, meats and mashed potatoes, minus the veggies, drizzle with the gravy and place in a foil baking pan, for ease and no washing up, heat in a 400f oven for 20 to 25 minutes.  In the meantime cut your French baguette in half, ciabatta is also good for this too, once the leftovers are heated place it piled high into the bread, wrap each loaf with foil and put it back into the oven for another 10 minutes… take it out unwrap it, cut into wedges, wrap each wedge of sandwich in kitchen roll, good for handling and cleaning your hands after you’ve eaten, again no clearing up and serve with bowls of the warm gravy (sorry this will be your only washing up)… ENJOY 😋

Have a fantastic Thanksgiving and crazy Black Friday (remember Black Friday is Friday not Thursday, give those poor people who work in retail a break and let them have time at home with their loved ones) ✨

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Can you believe 2015 has been and gone.

DSC_5627Like many people at this time of year I am not only reflective but also hopeful for a simple new year with lots of love and happiness around me.  As we enter 2016 I am thinking about how to improve my life, my list is as always, be more organized, spend lots more time with my family and friends and learn to move on, I always linger in the past wishing for simpler days, when really I should, look to simplifying my days going forward.

2015 bought many good memories along with some not so good ones, fortunately last year the good out weighed the bad, so I consider myself very lucky.  The year started with struggles in life in general, but there was hope that things might improve,  I am a firm believer in what hurts us only makes us stronger, and this is so true in my life, as I get older I definitely learn by the mistakes of the past.

The beginning of last year was brutally cold, our sad propane heating struggles to heat our house at the best of times, but last winter it failed miserably, but looking at the positives, meant it gave me determination to resolve the situation with a beautiful wood burning stove that heats our house perfectly now.IMG_0639

March bought about two special Birthdays and a new job in our house, my little Tate had his first Birthday  and two days later Paul turned 50 with a bang, a few days after that and after 29 years in his previous job, he very bravely started his new job, which so far seems to working out.IMG_0962

Our Easter tradition seemed to have started with our second Easter Saturday at the shore in April, it was very windy and chilly but it didn’t stop my Florrie from getting on the sand with her Dad.  May is always a busy month in our house with two Birthdays, an anniversary and of course American Mothers Day, but last year we added to our busy month with two graduations resulting in new degrees and then eventually two new jobs later in the year.  Florrie had her fourth Birthday, it seems hard to believe that this year she will be five, has it really been five years since that little ray of sunshine entered our lives.IMG_0751

Mabel graduated from Middle school at the end of June and we enjoyed a beautiful summer before she became a High School student, although I considered not letting her go, she is growing up so fast.  Summer flew by in a blink of an eye, but this year we managed to get away for a week to Cape Cod, a much needed break for Paul and myself.  We finally managed a trip into New York City to meet up with an old friend and his son,and we finally walked along the High Line, a trip we had been planning for a couple of years. August was filled with High School Soccer, heat week training, early morning practices and the start of the freshman and JV games for us, busy, busy, busy.IMG_1189

I have mixed feelings about Fall, on the one hand I love all things pumpkin, the beautiful Fall colors, warm soups and casseroles and apple cider donuts, but on the other hand, Fall means that we will be entering my least favorite season, Winter very soon, this year we have been very lucky though the weather has been mild and beautiful on many days leading up to Christmas, we even managed a day at the beach in December then sat outside a small coffee shop sipping coffee into the evening.  Fall brings along the pumpkin patches, corn mazes and lots of fun for Florrie and Tate, I love this season for all of those reasons and this year has been no different for me.DSC_3034

I consider myself a vey lucky ex-pat, I get to spend almost 3 months at a time with my parents, I love the time I spend with my Mum, but when she leaves it is the hardest part of living here.  Just before Thanksgiving, both of my parents arrived to spend a lot of this winter with us, Christmas day was in my opinion one of the best we have had for a few years, the day was so mild, my Mum and I drove to Starbucks for a quiet while after a very busy few weeks, we drove home to have a champagne brunch, opened presents, cooked and ate more food, my children all played board games, we then played Yankee Swap and then some more board games… just perfect.IMG_1431

We are very lucky to have some very kind friends both here in New Jersey and far away, this year we got to celebrate New Year in style with our very kind friends who live a 45 minute drive away from us… we love their family and their friends, it was so much fun to see them… thank you, you know who you are.

Life has its ups and downs for all of us and of course the past year was no different for us as a family, one of my children was diagnosed with an illness that can only be managed, and although as a mother I struggled and still do with the thought that I can not change this, I am learning to deal with it day by day and I think he is learning everyday too.  This year also saw the loss of a friendship for me over something so silly, if anyone knows me well they will know I do not give up on any of my friendships easily and this one was no different, but unfortunately she did not feel the same so I have had to move on, it makes me sad that this friendship came to an end, I miss her and her family a lot, but I have had to learn you really should not stay up until 5am drinking with friends, because some things that are said can never be taken back, even 2 years later.

I have no resolutions this year, I find I never stick to them so I just have hopes and goals… my one hope is that we all stay healthy and then the rest will hopefully fall into place… Happy 2016 to everyone, lets hope it is a good year filled with lots of laughter for all of us.

 

 

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Is it Thanksgiving already?

I don’t know about anyone else out there, but I am just not a cold weather person, I like lots of things about Fall and Winter, warm and cozy sweaters, all of the wonderful boots that can be worn, the warm comfort foods… But the cold dark evenings, the bitterly cold weather and snow, one dump of snow is pretty and a good excuse for a day in doors but after that I’m done, done and even more done and ready for Spring! So with the days getting increasingly darker earlier, the weather getting colder by the hour I am trying to be positive, thinking of warm days in the house with my needles, hooks and yarn for company but even that cannot seem to brighten my spirits, I just do not like this time of year!

But one day I do enjoy is Thanksgiving, it’s like Christmas Day without all the pressures of presents, it’s just about food, family and relaxation… My kind of day! I am absolutely amazed that we are at this time of year already, it only seems like yesterday we were celebrating Thanksgiving last year, and now we are about to do it all over again!

On the menu in our house is warm seasoned turkey, hickory smoked ham, homemade sausage, apple and sage stuffing, a cheats version of boxed cornbread stuffing for Blu, mashed buttery potatoes and green bean casserole… Of course turkey gravy and the cranberry and orange sauce I made and froze a few weeks ago… Black Friday has become famous in our house for warm left over rolls toasted in the oven, I think my children prefer this meal to the actual Thanksgiving day meal… Crazy, but it is oh so good!

Take all your left overs, and pile them into your bread of choice, this year we have my favorite ciabatta bread from Trader Joes, we will be having turkey in one and ham in the other, warm through the stuffing and gravy, pile this on top of your roasted meat, add cranberry sauce too if you like, close the bread securely wrap in foil and bake in a 400f oven for 10-15 minutes… Take out unwrap the bread, slice, serve and enjoy… Delicious Black Friday food! Maybe it will become a tradition in your house too!

Now before I move onto another leftover meal we will be having on Saturday, I will tell you about our Thanksgiving day deserts I will be baking today, firstly a recipe I tried out a couple of weeks ago to take to friends for dinner a salted caramel apple pie, now I changed this recipe, it wasn’t gluten free as I made a pastry dough for the base and this time I’m going to make a crisp/crumble topping… This pie was delicious and with warm caramel and whipped cream topping it, it makes a great Thanksgiving desert! Secondly I found a recipe on Pinterest last night that works well with my giant bag of coconut I bought from Costco and the whole fridge drawer I have of limes I need to use up, lime and coconut cream cookies, then of course with a family of chocoholics white chocolate brownies are a must desert for the day of indulgence!

Back to my second left overs day meal… traditional pea and ham soup , another recipe I found on Pinterest, but I like the look of this one because it uses fresh peas instead of split peas, I will be using Trader Joes frozen organic peas but I am really looking forward to trying this recipe, seved with the Pioneer woman’s pizza dough made into an olive oil and rosemary flatbread!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone… Enjoy!

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