Thanksgiving 2017

Gobble gobble!

Hey guys!

Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving yesterday with family and friends.

This year we hosted Thanksgiving again, going on a handful of years now hosting this dinner; which the process is always a lot of fun for me. I look forward to the Wednesday before to prepare the dinner with my mother alone all day.  We have a real good time talking while putting everything together, and crafting new things to try…and she cleans the capon! I hope this is a tradition I can partake in until I am old and gray, well, I won’t ever be gray..maybe blue or purple, maybe pink? hah. Plus, I love to cook, and I love the challenges of putting together a large dinner on my own with all the prepping and different cook times getting it on the table at one time.

This year’s Menu:

Appetizers:

  • Stuffed mushrooms
  • Scallops wrapped in bacon
  • Crostini of goat cheese and caramelized zucchini
  • Chilled shrimp cocktail*

Cocktails:

  • Valeria – Lillet white, elderberry syrup, St Germain and Prosecco floater
  • Poinsettia – Prosecco, cranberry vodka and splash of cranberry juice
  • Michael-  caramel apple martini w cider sugar rim

Dinner:

  • Lemon/thyme roasted capon filled with sausage stuffing
  • Roasted potato spears
  • Pumpkin spiced roasted butternut squash
  • Green beans w garlic
  • Roasted Asparagus w lemon
  • Roasted Brussels sprouts and bacon glazed with maple syrup
  • Braised fennel w clementine zest
  • Mashed potatoes*

Dessert:

  • Squash pie w homemade whipped cream
  • Chocolate chip brownies
  • Chocolate frosted vanilla cupcakes
  • Cream cheese raspberry puff pastry
  • Italian cookies*
  • Sfingi* (Sicilian type fritter)
  • Blueberry pie*

*=brought by family

—–

The best part of my Thanksgiving wasn’t that my kids behaved, or that my house stayed clean, or that the dinner turned out stellar…it’s that I got to sleep in till 8:30AM. Yes, everyone, my kids gave me a Thanksgiving gift by not running to my bedside early. We are on a roll over here!! Haha. I’m jk jk. Well, sorta, sleeping in is like my favoritest thing ever. Starting your day from bed without being poked at, yelled to, creepily stared at, cried to …is pretty fantastic in my Mommy book. Woohoo give it up to my girls.

FAVORITEST is now a word, yes.

Thanksgiving, all joking aside, turned out to be a real nice day with everyone. From appetizers and cocktails to dinner and desserts, it was smooth going and real delicious …if I can say that about my own food? I have so much to be thankful for this year..so here I am spelling it out.

I am thankful for my health and my families’ health. I am thankful and grateful to have clothes on my back, a nice home with food (and coffee) on the table every day and for our jobs that help us make that happen. I am thankful for my family, my loving and supportive husband, my two smart caring children; for my beautiful parents, wonderful big sisters, caring in-laws and all my friends. And even my cat-baby, Gordon! I am thankful to open my eyes everyday to experience life, and feel that life is good without being extravagant or extra, that the simple things are all I need. I am thankful that I can reflect to appreciate what I have..not what I don’t have and I hope my children see what I see, and how beautiful is this life. 

 

 

Here are pictures of our day!

Another holiday in the books, guys.  I can’t believe how fast 2017 is flying by and I hope 2018 goes a lot  …s l o w e r!  Let’s all hope!

Happy Thanksgiving and we will talk soon!

xoxoxox

Thanksgiving 2013

Hope you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving with your family and friends!!

This day went off without a hitch, and very relaxing. I couldn’t cook a darn thing, no apps, desserts or anything, which is frustrating, but a blessing. For the first time ever, while my husband went off with his buddies on their annual pancake breakfast and HS football game, I got to spend the morning with the girls taking our sweet ass time getting ready and watching the Macy’s parade. My kids rarely showed interest, until this year! This is a big deal!! I love the parade.

We spent Thanksgiving over my parents.  Which made it easier on my mind not having a kitchen, cause my mom and dad do everything, and I mean everything! We hooked up the dessert of course, but they do everything else. My mom out did herself again with her menu. It was all delicious and went down way way too easily! Especially the wine!

We had a small crew spend the day together, as my oldest sister lives in Italy and my older sister was visiting her in-laws in the Mid-west, and my in-laws stayed together…but it was real pleasant even if they were all missed. Time flew, my kids had a great time with their Nonni’s attention (they love Nonno and Nonna so much!!), and I am still stuffed 9 hours later!  I think I curbed that pesky craving I’ve been having to pig out all week.  I think!. I hope..at least! (quick note on my weight…I have kept steady with it! Haven’t gained a lb since my last drop!! This is a HUGE deal, and I am secretly extra thankful for my ability to keep weight!!)

Here are a few shots of our sweet day. I didn’t take my camera out all that much, but did snap a few good shots of my family and the amazing feast!

Thanksgiving is not over for me yet!  Friday night is Friendsgiving, and I am looking forward to that..like I do every year!!

Love you guys!

xoxoxo

The sisters!  They got all decked out in their leopard outfits.  So cute!

The sisters! They got all decked out in their leopard outfits. So cute!

My girls are adorable!

My girls are adorable!

Blurry but still cute.

Blurry but still cute.  Cannot wait till this construction is over for a clean house again!

A little fashion show before we went out.

A little fashion show before we went out.

Il brodo, my mom's chicken broth...I almost stole this and left the family alone.  lol  it's THAT good.

Il brodo, my mom’s chicken broth…I almost stole this and left the family alone. lol it’s THAT good.

heh I just like this bird bottle opener, it makes me smile. :)

heh I just like this bird bottle opener, it makes me smile. 🙂

The table set and ready for the day!

The table set and ready for the day!

My mom making the tortellini con brodo.  So drooly good.

My mom making the tortellini con brodo. So drooly good.

My Dad and I.

My Dad and I.

Sauteed pumpkin with brown sugar.  This is seriously the best dish.

Sautéed pumpkin with brown sugar. This is seriously the best dish. AND my favorite veg of all..broccoli!

Roasted potatoes

Roasted potatoes, stuffed mushrooms and artichokes/peas/mushrooms…. And yes, that is a 40oz of Miller High Life in the background..next time I am buying two so my aunt can be toazty and happi.  More wine for me!

Some stuffed mushrooms..

Some stuffed mushrooms..

My girls waiting patiently for dinner.

My girls waiting patiently for dinner.

A shot of the turkey, this was so last minute!  Sorry for the angle!!!!!!!!!!!!1

A shot of the capon!  We don’t eat turkey often!  This shot was so last minute! Sorry for the angle!!!!!!!!!!!!1

A close up of my mom's stuffing.  It's a sausage stuffing that you cook IN THE BIRD. It's by far my fav way to have stuffing.  My mom's is the best.  Y U M

A close up of my mom’s stuffing. It’s a homemade sausage stuffing that my mom cooks IN THE BIRD. It’s by far my fav way to have stuffing. My mom’s is the best. Y U M

Crafts for the kids!

Crafts for the kids!

Dessert!

Dessert!

My mom made killer lady finger cookies stuffed with marscapone.  So pretty too!

My mom made killer lady finger cookies stuffed with marscapone. So pretty too!

No holiday is complete without someone passing out on the couch!  :)

No holiday is complete without someone passing out on the couch! 🙂

What I Am Thankful For This Year

Thanksgiving is upon us, and it is usually that time of year to reflect upon what we are thankful for. Most years I am pretty consistent with what I am thankful for. Gearing my thanks toward my health, my families health, food on our table, money in our pockets, or family being with me. This year is no different, absolutely no difference. Though this has been an interesting year for me, out loud and personally, with one ringing theme throughout that I am truly thankful for on top of my normal list.

I am thankful for …. LOVE

For my capacity to love and be loved.

For having an amazing family surrounding me to love. Feeling and knowing love from them. For learning, always, how to love and be nurturing. Selflessly. Unconditionally. Also, for how they love, not only me, but everything that engulfs my life.. my husband, our children and our friends. Not that they wouldn’t, but I am thankful.

For teaching my children what my parents and sisters taught me. To give and receive love as a child, as a parent, a person, and, to love themselves by accepting who they are. Also, to love others for who they are.

For the love between my husband and I. We have been together since we turned 19 yrs old; it was a bond of love immediately between two strangers. The love between us is heartwarming and passionate. Romantic and best-friend-like. It is a language only understood between us. Our love is a commitment, through everything. It is putting each other first. His actions and reactions, past and present, truly are the meaning of love! And I learn so much from him.

For my ability to love my friends. Friends, the people I choose to be in my life. Sharing my life’s joys with them and in turn, creating an extension of my family, I am thankful for their love. I have had some amazing friendships in my life, and I am thankful for the love I can experience with those in my closest circle.

For my love of spirituality, being from and for God and all that encompasses my world. I am not an uber practicing Catholic; I practice, teach my children along with our church and religious ed, but I also adhere to other ideals, too. It’s just how I am, and how I feel inside to be. Because of how I have been able to feel loved and love from my inner peace, I am thankful.

Love is quite the human emotion. I don’t believe life would be as special without it.

It makes us feel complete when we are around it, and it makes us feel utterly alone without it.

I have been graced with love. I, also, have been graced to have lost love.

Love is one of the emotions people want to attain most. From family, lovers, friends, colleagues, and peers. And, sometimes occurs without will, and sometimes is a choice we make. It’s truly an amazing emotion that connects us all.

Love is actually life’s greatest blessing. And I am thankful.

I am writing this on the cusp of returning from a dear family friend’s wake. A friend that was my mom’s close friend, neighbor and a friend my own children grew to love. Being in her presence and those of her family/closest friends, made me realize how loved she was and forever will be. That made me joyful to celebrate in her life, and even in her recent death. She was very lucky to have been such a loving person that they all united and reunited in her honor. And I was lucky to have had her in my families lives for 35 yrs. RIP Connie.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta

Hope you all had a wonderful night to kick off the new year. Really looking forward to 2013.

…..

Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta

1.5 lbs Brussels sprouts (prep directions below)
1/2 lb pancetta chopped
1 shallot chopped
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tspn salt
1/2 tspn freshly ground black pepper

You will need a baking pan covered in parchment.

Preheat oven to 400F.

A washed brussel sprout.  Isn't he cute?

A washed brussel sprout before prep.

Cut off the stems from the brussels sprouts and pull off the bottom and first layers of the outer, darker leaves.

Without top layer of leaves.

Without top layer of leaves.

Without browned stem

Without browned stem

Score the bottoms with an X.

Score the brussel sprout with a cross.

Score the brussel sprout with a cross.

In a skillet, set on medium-high heat, add oil let heat. Then add in shallots and let sweat. Once they are translucent add in Brussels Sprouts, pancetta and s&p.

In a pan on medium-high heat add oil, shallots, Brussels Sprouts and chopped pancetta

In a pan on medium-high heat add oil, shallots, Brussels Sprouts and chopped pancetta

Toss to coat the Brussels Sprouts.

First toss of the Sprouts with the pancetta.

First toss of the Sprouts with the pancetta.

Remove from heat once the pancetta changes color from bright pink to a slightly cooked pink. Add vegetables with all the pancetta and shallots into a baking pan. Let roast for 35 minutes until tender.

Done 🙂

Enjoy!!

Oven Roasted Leeks with Herbs de Provence

Oven Roasted Leeks With Herbs de Provence

6 medium leeks, cleaned and cut lengthwise into quarters
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. Herbs de Provence
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
2/3 cup of vegetable stock

You will need a baking sheet covered in parchment.

Pre-heat oven 400°F.

To Clean Leeks
Remove the coarse outer leaves. Trim each leek like you would a scallion- chopping off the root end, and then taking off the darkest portion of the leaves down to the light green; leaving about 2 inches of green. Slice the leeks down the center, rinse under cold water to remove all bits of dirt/sand, slightly bending the leeks around to remove the debris. Drain on paper towels and proceed with recipe.

Take the clean leeks, in a bowl, and toss with the oil, herbs, salt and pepper. Then add to baking sheet.

Roast the leeks until they are tender, about 35-45 minutes. Around the 20 minute mark add in a few splashes of the stock, and then repeat at the next interval of 20 minutes. Once they are tender and have caramelized marks they are cooked.

Finished Side Dish!  Oven Roasted Leeks with herbs de Provence.

Finished Side Dish! Oven Roasted Leeks with herbs de Provence.

Thanksgiving

That’s me with my double chin- my husband was trying to do me a favor taking pictures of me, cause I take them of everyone.. but this isn’t my best angle. :\ My dress is cute though, right? Navy blue might be my new black!

Had a great time out with our friends this Thanksgiving Eve.  It’s a tradition that when our friends are home from NY we get together either the night before or after.  It means more now than ever before cause now all of us have children, with one of the couples having TRIPLETS!  EEK! I KNOW!  We make it a point to have a kids free night out, geek out on catching up..and drinking a plenty of scorpion bowls.  I LOVE ME SOME SCORPION BOWLS!  And I love me my friends, too. Time always flies when we are together, and I wished it wouldn’t.

My Thanksgiving was a smaller gathering than it normally had been for the past 11 yrs..it was my parents, my husband, our two girls and myself.  My oldest sister lives in Italy, so since 2007 when she moved there we haven’t had a Thanksgiving together. My older sister went to visit the in-laws in the midwest, an annual trip. My in-laws’ home was the usual spot for us in the past, but this year they decided that after three months of renovations, where my sister in-law and family lived with them, they’d treat themselves to a small holiday with their daughter and her family. At the time hearing all this I have to say I got pretty, pretty upset.  It has been set up that we celebrate as one big family the past few years that I just wanted it to stay that way. Everyone at my mother-in-laws. BUT even with these changes, making it a more intimate gathering worked out well in the end.

After a relaxing morning and a home delivered Starbucks latte from my handsome husband, we headed to my parents in the late morning.  I do have to say that I am thankful for my Father not being a football weirdo.  I say weirdo, cause it’s like a cultish religion for some men/women.  And, honestly, I just don’t get it.  I fully understand the sport, don’t get me wrong. And my husband has been trying to get me to like football since we met in 1996.  It just isn’t a thing for me.  Hockey on the other hand. I grew up with my Father watching two things.. Italian soccer and the Bruins. Most of the time I’d pass out cold from the sounds of the fans at the televised soccer games, but the sounds of the hockey games were exciting; and it was fun to watch.  So, when they are not on hiatus, I have been known to get into a game of the Bruins. Watching Milan Lucic is fun too, not so bad on the eyes. Jussaying. But back to Thanksgiving!  My parents prepared a spectacular dinner. Starting with my Mother’s homemade chicken broth and tortellini (photo below). I can eat that dish everyday for the rest of my life and never be tired of it. It’s just that good! Then we had the main course of roasted turkey, which my Mother stuffed with apples, oranges, and dates. The sides were sauteed pumpkin with onions, broccoli, asparagus with parmiggiano, roasted red bliss potatoes, sausage stuffing, and the infamous salad.  A side note, we always make this ginormous salad for the holidays and there is just too much food that no one eats the salad.  So it’s a big joke for us, and we still make that salad!! Dinner was amazing, even had some of that salad.  The cheesecake I made, posted the recipe earlier, and pumpkin pie were a huge hit at dessert. OINK.

My mother’s chicken soup with Tortellini.

The day was so nice and relaxing.  I had brought two crafts for the girls to do, in case they got bored, but they were more interested in showing Nonno how to make and fire pottery on the iPad than crafting (also to play bejeweled with Nonna!).  Had some great crafts too..grabbed two foam cones, a bag of mini peppermint marshmallows, a bag of spiced chewy candy, and a box of toothpicks, to make candy Christmas trees! The other things I brought were blue and white foam snowflakes and pipe cleaners to make ornaments.  But it didn’t matter that they were more interested in something else, cause they had the happiest looks on their faces being with Nonno, Nonna, their daddy and I.  And that is what the holidays are really about.. making those memories for them.  At the end of the evening, while driving home, both girls were still wide awake and talked the entire 30 minute drive about how great of a Thanksgiving they had with us..though they really missed their cousins.  🙂 

Hope you all had a wonderful day too.  🙂

Vanilla Cheesecake with Oreo crust

20 Oreo cookies (about 2 1/4 cups finely crushed- also can subsitute WhoNu Brand)

3 Tbsp. butter or margarine, melted

5 pkg. (8 oz. each) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened

3/4 cup sugar

3 Tbsp. flour

1 Tbsp. vanilla bean paste- you can find this at Trader Joe’s (or 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract)

1 cup low fat sour cream

4 eggs

Use a 9″ spring form pan.

Heat oven to 325ºF

Start with the crust.  Mix cookie crumbs, 3 Tbsp. sugar and butter; press onto bottom of pan. Bake 10 min.

You can breakdown the Oreos in an zip-loc bag using a rolling pin, but it’s so much easier in the food processor.

Filling.  Mix cream cheese, sugar, flour and vanilla paste with mixer until well blended.   Add sour cream; mix well.  Turn down mixer to low, add eggs in one at a time just until blended and smooth.  Pour over crust.

** If you would like to decorate the top with the cookies: before baking, take four cookie halves and place on top-pressing them into the filling enough to be stable.

Bake 1 hour 10 min. or until center is almost set. Cool completely. Refrigerate at least 4 hours before taking out of the form.

Fresh from the oven! The cheesecake rises a lot while it’s cooking, and when it’s cooled it deflates and settles into the pan.

Run knife or metal spatula around rim of pan to loosen cake and you are able to spring the form without any cake attached.

Vanilla Cheesecake with Oreo Cookie Crust! Soooo yummy!