Tag: thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving 2015

Hi from California friends!  I just wanted to put a little Thanksgiving message on this blog.  I hope you are all having a wonderful holiday or if you are abroad and not celebrating having a great day just the same!  It’s kind of cool when you think about it that as Americans we have decided to dedicate an entire day to the virtue of gratitude.  We don’t do that for other virtues such as fidelity, trust, honor, etc but we set aside a whole day to think about all the things we have to be grateful for.

happy thanksgiving2 I for one have much to be grateful for.  I made this video for youtube where I talk a little bit about Thanksgiving in the Thanksgiving Tag.

Mostly I am thankful for the life I have.  I know that sounds cheesy but it is true.  My life is far from perfect but I think it is pretty great.  I am so thankful for my job.  I love being able to work from home and not have to be stuck in a cubicle all day.  I love being able to go outside and listen to music and not have a boss looming over me everyday.  It’s a pretty great gig.

I also love my current employment.  After working in accounting for a decade it has been so wonderful doing something creative each day.  I also love the challenge of learning to work in marketing.  Each day I do something different and new.  How many jobs can say that?  Certainly not accounting!  That’s for sure!

I am also thankful for my home. I never thought I would be a home owner but I’ve now been one for 3 years. I love my house and still feel it is the most Me place in the world.

I am thankful for my roommate of 3 years named Regan and for her putting up with me!

I am thankful for my blogging and youtube channel.  It has been such a positive experience and helped me interact with some amazing individuals.  I seriously love you guys more than I could have imagined.

I am thankful for my faith and that no matter what is thrown at me it stays strong.  I see people wilt and lose their faith and it makes me so grateful I have been able to remain steadfast.

I am thankful for great literature, art, music, dance and movies.  I am thankful a new Star Wars movie is coming out!  I am thankful for Disney and Pixar and all the artists/authors who dare to put something out to the world for all of us to enjoy/judge.

I am thankful for my friends and family and all the love and support they show me.

I am thankful for open water swimming and all my swim friends.

I am just thankful to be me and to be alive and living this strange life of mine.  Thank you all for being a part of it.

Now on to Christmas!

No Fear of Being Alone

Recently I was talking to a single friend of mine about my Thanksgiving plans and telling him I was going to be solo this year. He seemed horrified by this notion.  Technically I will eat Thanksgiving meal at my aunts house (but wasn’t planning on that at the time of this conversation).

I told him that it was fine with me and I am okay being alone.  I told him ‘I am comfortable in my own skin’ and he said ‘I wouldn’t be.  It would kill me’.

I guess it’s a normal reaction to being alone on Thanksgiving and some years it would make me sad, but this year I’m ok. I was actually a little bit more sad to be facing Halloween alone (ended up having a great time with 2 couples my friends Danielle and Cory, and Rachel and Grant). The reason I was sad about missing Halloween is that it used to be a highlight of the year with my friends.  We would throw a big party, dress up and just have a blast.

I guess the reason I get a little nostalgic for Halloween and New Years is that I know it’s a time that is gone from my life.  My friends are almost all married.  Like seriously I have 4 or 5 single friends on my phone and they are usually so busy.  Even book club has become impossible of late.  I get it.  I understand people have to be with their little one’s on Halloween and New Years but that doesn’t mean I don’t miss all the good times with friends.

With Thanksgiving I know next year I will likely be with my family and the year after that and onward.  There isn’t a feeling of devastation because it’s just a day and like I said I do have friends and family to share the day with.

If you are alone on Thanksgiving and want to still cook a turkey dinner make sure to check out my Thanksgiving for one article I posted last year on my friend Samantha’s awesome food blog.

http://littleferrarokitchen.com/2013/11/thanksgiving-1-guest-post-smilinglds-girl/

This year I am going to order a Thanksgiving meal from Harmons (a local grocery) that make delicious food so that I have some thanksgiving food besides the meal at my aunts.  (My knee isn’t quite up to preparing feasts yet)

Anyway, this conversation about being alone at Thanksgiving and my friend being so horrified at the idea made me think about my life.  I am alone a lot.  Even though I have a roommate and tenants we don’t really get to sit down and spend time together that often.  It’s so much effort to get together with friends but I am a very social person and I do make that effort, but still I am often alone.

Many people have a fear or social anxiety about eating alone or going to the movies alone . Eating I get a little bit because you don’t have anyone to talk to but I do not understand why people care about going to the movies alone? You can’t talk in the movies so unless you are there with your honey and can snuggle I don’t see the value in having another person accompany you to the movies?  Please someone explain why that is such a social faux pas?

In fact, I realized today that all the movies I have been to this year have been alone.  I have seen in the theater- Boyhood, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Ghostbusters, Meet the Mormons, Edge of Tomorrow, Guardians of the Galaxy, Book of Life and The Boxtrolls and Big Hero 6. None of those experiences were hurt by being alone? I don’t get it?

But anyway, I feel like there is this anxiety many feel about being alone.  My Mother gets very nervous being alone .In fact, she has probably spent under 5 nights in her whole life alone without family of some kind with her.  That blows my mind.  She’s very fortunate that life has worked out that way for her.

I would love to have my own family and fall in love but that’s not the cards God has dealt me.  My job is to be as happy as I can be with the life I have. And never forget I am surrounded by amazing people.  Whether it is reaching out to someone on phone, Facebook, twitter, this or my disney blog, my channel, or someone in my ward there is no shortage of people who care and love me.  That’s the great part about being single in this day and age.It is so easy to not feel lonely even if you are alone.

That doesn’t mean I don’t have bad days.  I do.  I have days where I feel sad and bemoan the fact I may never have my own children or a great love story.  It may happen but it may not.  I’m a human being just like anyone else and I express the full range of human emotions at different times of my life.

But I can confidently say being alone is not a fear for mine. It is the reality of my life and I always know that with God I am never truly alone.

So if you are alone this holiday season know that you have a friend here at this blog and on social media who knows how you are feeling- both on your good days and bad.  I get it.  I love you and we can support each other.

Take care my friends and god bless!

Btw thanks to Emily and Megan today for calling me out of the blue and cheering me up! I’ve got such great friends and family to support me.

Thanksgiving 2013

Happy Thanksgiving from this smiling girl!  I hope you all had a wonderful holiday with lots of yummy food.  I’ve had quite the busy day.   It all started yesterday when I flew to my parents house in Cali.  We had a full house so I am at the local Hampton Inn which I love.  Very comfortable room and it makes visiting my family more of a vacation than a family visit, which is good!

Then I got a kiwi crate and did a cute craft with my nieces (all 5 are here.  So fun!).  The craft was turkey namecards and they turned out very adorable.

Isabel punched out the craft real quick
Isabel punched out the craft real quick
Olive was the crafting queen
Olive was the crafting queen
One of these was done by my niece. One by me...
One of these was done by my niece. One by me…
Thanksgiving Kiwi crate
Thanksgiving Kiwi crate

Then this morning we continued the Thanksgiving festivities with the Folsom turkey trot 5k.  This is the 3rd year in a row I’ve done turkey trot (last year I did one in Utah, year before in Folsom).

I’m not much of a walker and even less a runner but its fun to get some energy out before the big meal, challenge yourself and help give back to the community.  This year I mentioned it early and we ended up with 11 of us attending- Me, Dad, Seth, Megan, Sam, Anna, Madi, Olive, Lucy, Nelle,Isabel.  All of the kids did great and everyone finished.

The girls ran together the whole way.  So cute
The girls ran together the whole way. So cute
Lucy doing a great job on the run
Lucy doing a great job on the run
Nellie running and smiling
Nellie running and smiling
My niece Olive
My niece Olive
Starting the race
Starting the race
A finisher!
A finisher!

My feet are pretty blistered and body was sore but I’m doing pretty well on the pain recovery.  I was feeling strong enough to help out with the kids and I decided to take them to the pool at my hotel to get them out of the chefs hair.  It was a lot of fun but I’m definitely very tired!

swimmer
A little fuzzy but here they are heading out to the pool

Once we got home from the swimming we got busy making a huge meal.  I was pretty tired but I made the mashed potatoes which you could say is my specialty. The secret is heating up the cream/milk and butter together so they become one liquid and mixing that with the mashed potatoes.  Its so creamy!

I'll dream about these for many months...
I’ll dream about these for many months…

We ended up with 21 people at thanksgiving dinner and it was quite the endeavor for my Mom and sister.  Here are some photos

spread

Seating for 21
Seating for 21

So it was a very Happy Thanksgiving at the Wagner house and I hope it was the same for all of you.  God bless you and your family and let’s have a wonderful Christmas!  Love you all!

 

Thankful for Faces

turkey-clip-art-20

I used to do this long list of all the things I am thankful for on the blog but eventually you run out of items and end up thanking the in and out crew and the pasta I had for dinner (not that we shouldn’t be thanking those things but not top of my list!).  I thought it would be fun to just show in pictures.  The faces of people I am thankful for today. Happy thanksgiving!

Ready for Christmas

I know it is near blaspheme for some of you to start celebrating Christmas before Thanksgiving (not sure why but some people become so upset!).  Usually I can’t resist turning on some Christmas music or sneaking in a Hallmark movie, but this year Thanksgiving is so late that I decided to abandon pretense and start my celebrations early (or on time really).

This is my first Christmas in my house and in fact last year my life was in boxes and Christmas was extremely stressful time for me.  Waiting for your house to be finished is an anxiety sufferers nightmare.  Awful.  I think that was why I wanted to do it up even more than normal this year.  I wanted to make my first Christmas at my house extra special and festive, so all you early Christmas haters will have to deal! 😉

I will have 2 Christmas trees this year.  One in my room and the main room.  I have set up the one in my room and the other one will be delivered next week.  My fake tree had 3 sections of bad lights so I decided to do something different and get a fresh tree.  My family always got a fresh tree but I’m usually gone so much in December that it didn’t make sense.  This year my family is coming to Utah so I could go fresh!

I am also going to get my tree delivered to my door from Five Star Christmas Trees which I’m very excited about.  They are even going to set it up and pick it up which is great because I’m only one person and trees are big!  I will post a photo of the fresh tree when it is finished.

I have memory trees with photos and ornaments from all over my life.  This year I have a temple square, nanowrimo, disneyland, new home ornaments. I also learned how to decorate a tree on my mission.  You put the ornaments on in 3 layers  balls in the very back, then filler a little closer, unique special ornaments out front.  The balls and filler can be a color theme but then I like the special ornaments to be special and a little pop of different colors.

Anyway, here is my Christmas tree for my room:

tree
My tree at night. (I love the colored lights on a personal tree)
tree2
Isn’t it fun to have a Christmas tree in a bedroom! I highly recommend it.

I have also been busy adding decor around the house and on the outside (quite the task I might add).  I’m greatly proud of it!

lights
This took me like an hour. I know it doesn’t look like it but it did! So fun!
border
I usually don’t like things that are too kitschy but I liked these large christmas border. So fun!
wreath
I’ve had this wreath for 5 years and it still looks great!
nativity
I think this nativity cost me $15 but I really like it.

So there you have it!  Are any of you preparing for Christmas or are you waiting? What traditions make your holidays unique?

My friends who celebrate Hanukkah they are combining Thanksgiving and Hanukkah which is super fun.   Check out the http://thanksgivukkah.wordpress.com/ for recipes and ideas. There are a lot of things I’d like to try down the road.  Yum!

I love my Christmas house!

A Familiar Thanksgiving

stress-free-thanksgiving1

My mind is decidedly random and you can never guess what is going on inside by what’s being said outside.  Anyone else like that?

Well, today at church was definitely such a moment.  The missionaries were speaking about missionary work and even though that is my favorite topic I found my mind wondering.  I think I was hungry but I remembered a talk given by Elder Perry in 2001 (and yet still fresh in my mind.  I’m like that.  I can tell you all about the lectures from my favorite classes in school and its been 11 years since I graduated…yet I can’t remember where my keys are half the time. Strange!)

Anyway, the talk is called ‘A Community of Saints’ and the main purpose is to discuss how we as members of the church can take the trappings of the church for granted because we are so used to it, but I find that slippery slope to exist with almost anything in life.  Familiarity leads to cavalier attitudes and we can sometimes lose what is really most important because we think we are bored or it isn’t living up to our standards.

Elder Perry gives an example that I love.  Please forgive the long quote but I think any of us with Moms can relate to a moment when we think our family is so ‘uncool’ but everyone else thinks it’s great:

We all have life events that, when we recall them years later, acquire new and important meaning. When I was in junior high, I was honored by the school administration when I was asked to become a member of the student hall patrol. On the days we were assigned to be on hall patrol, we were instructed to bring our lunch to school and eat it together. It was always a special treat, and there was always a lot of competition to see whose mother had prepared the most desirable lunch. Often we traded lunch items among ourselves.

One day when I was assigned to be on hall patrol, I forgot to tell Mother that I needed a lunch until I was almost ready to leave for school. An expression of concern came over Mother’s face when I requested a lunch. She told me that she had just used up her last loaf of bread for breakfast and would not be baking until that afternoon. All she had in the house to make a lunch was a large sweet roll left over from the previous night’s supper.

Mother made delicious sweet rolls.She always arranged them in a pan so there was one large one across the top of the pan and then rows of smaller ones down the length of the pan. Only the large one remained. It was about the size of a loaf of bread in length but, of course, not in thickness. I was embarrassed to take just a sweet roll for lunch when I imagined what the other patrol members would have, but I decided it was better to go with the sweet roll than go without lunch.

When it came time to eat lunch, I went to a far-off corner so I wouldn’t be noticed. When the trading of lunches started, my friends wanted to know what I had. I explained what had happened that morning, and to my dismay, everyone wanted to see the sweet roll. But my friends surprised me—instead of making fun of me, they all wanted to have a piece of the sweet roll! It turned out to be my best lunch trading day of the entire year! The sweet roll that I thought would be an embarrassment to me turned out to be the hit of our lunch hour.

As I have reflected on this experience, it has occurred to me that it is often part of human nature to attach less value to familiar things simply because they are so common to us. One of these familiar things could be our membership in the restored Church.

—————

I love that last quote “often part of human nature to attach less value to familiar things simply because they are common to us”.  Could this not be a problem with Thanksgiving and the entire holiday season?  Because the traditions are so repetitive and seemingly ordinary do we forget to remember how special those moments truly are?

For example, most of us expect to have turkey on thanksgiving but usually it is not until it is our turn to cook the bird that we realize how much work it is to make the ordinary turkey!

I’m going to try and keep this in mind during my Thanksgiving with my family and the Christmas season to come- appreciate the ordinary and the common because it will not always be here.  I challenge you all to do the same!

So, my brain wandered off somewhere pretty interesting today and I’m glad it did!

Thanksgiving for One vs 2.0

So the guest post is here!  Check it out at http://littleferrarokitchen.com/2013/11/thanksgiving-1-guest-post-smilinglds-girl/ .  It is based on a post I did last year when I was home for thanksgiving and missing the food I was used to. Take a look at last years post and you will see how much better this one is (especially the photography.  Thanks Dad! https://smilingldsgirl.com/2012/11/25/thanksgiving-for-one/

I’m really proud of how everything turned out so please take a look and make some comments on Sam’s or my site.  Pass it on (especially to the singles that you know)

Last year I found myself facing a new predicament in life.  For the first time in my 32 years I was alone for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Now I had friends who had me over for meals and the like but for the season and for Christmas day I was alone.

This is a situation that more Americans are finding themselves in every day.   In his wonderful book, Living Alone, Eric Klinenberg says that “In 1950, 22 percent of American adults were single. Now that number is almost 50 percent. One in seven adults lives alone”.    One in 7 and yet our society is still built on the assumption of companionship. When I venture out to say a movie or a nice restaurant by myself it is a near social pariah.  I do it anyway but it is still definitely outside the norm.

So, where does that leave the single who is alone for even more family-centric moments such as birthdays or holidays?  If they cannot find an urban tribe, quasi-family to associate with then they are left to celebrate alone, a depressing prospect for most of us.

Well, last year I decided to change that.  I was going to be spending the holidays alone and I would make the best of it.  I did pretty well through Halloween and even Christmas but Thanksgiving proved particularly difficult.  I had a friend invite me to her place for the actual day which was lovely but it wasn’t the meal I was used to and I found myself feeling nostalgic for the flavors of my family.

The logical solution was to make Thanksgiving for myself but how can one make a feast for one?  It seems impossible?  Fortunately I am not the type who is left undaunted by challenges and I decided to give it a try and you know what I learned- you can do Thanksgiving for One!  It is not only possible but very enjoyable. 

Thanksgiving for 1 (Guest Post by SilingLDS Girl} via LittleFerraroKitchen.com

Here’s what I learned:

        1. Plan ahead so you don’t have all the cooking in one day.  Both  years I have done thanksgiving for one I have made the desserts the day before.  You could also do the rolls the day before if that is important to you.   Since it saves well I make the cranberry relish or sauce in advance also.
        2.  Pick 2 sides and make them really well.  It is impossible to duplicate a huge thanksgiving meal for one person and if you did how would you eat it all (and let’s be honest you will be a little sad so tons of food and lonely person probably not good combo).  I chose to make mashed potatoes and stuffing.   Sweet potatoes are an everyday item and not that special for me, so I will leave them out.
        3. There’s no reason to make everything yourself.  I used canned rolls because rolls aren’t that important to my Thanksgiving but you could certainly buy them from a good bakery or your local market.  You could even buy the turkey already cooked (or a rotisserie chicken) and focus on sides.
        4. Pick a veggie that you can buy in small amounts.  For example a head of lettuce is often too much for me and goes bad.  Green beans are great because I can buy just a handful and not waste.  One ear of corn, a couple carrots, things like that save on time and money.
        5. Don’t forget little details like real whipped cream and cranberry relish.  If your family always has a pickle platter have pickles.  Or if you secretly hate the family jello salad don’t make it!  That’s the great thing about cooking for yourself you can do whatever you want.  If you want to make turkey curry go for it.  Want to try sugar free recipe, go for it.   Want to make collard greens or eat ham instead of turkey do it!
        6. Because you are cooking for 1 live a little.  Buy lobster or mussels, get the good french butter or be like me and get a massage while on break!  There will be plenty of your life when you are scrimping and saving every cent to pay for kids and retirement.  An occasional treat for a single’s dinner is highly worth it!  Plus, you can afford to go organic, get grass-fed meat, artisan bread.  Whatever excites you!
        7. Plan on ways to save meals and use components for 2nd and 3rd meals.  Like having turkey sandwiches or potato soup after thanksgiving dinner.  I make up these little TV dinners so they are ready to go when I’m in the mood for a little home cooking.To quote the amazing Judith Jones “Some say Why would I want to go to all that trouble just for me? My answer is: If you like good food, why not HONOR YOURSELF enough to make a pleasing meal and relish every mouthful.”  Cheers to me!

Menu

Turkey breast roasted with fresh herbs and gravy

Cornbread stuffing with maple sausage and apricots

Yukon gold mashed potatoes

Cranberry relish

Green beans with bacon vinaigrette

Rolls

No bake pumpkin cheesecake

Turkey Breast  

Thanksgiving for 1 (Guest Post by SilingLDS Girl} via LittleFerraroKitchen.com

  • Thaw bird completely before cooking.  Make a paste with fresh herbs and butter then rub the bird with it and put underneath the skin.  Check the label but it usually ends up being about 30 minutes for every pound at 350.
  • It should get to a temperature of 160 to be done.

Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes

  • Cook 4 yukon gold potatoes in the crock-pot under high for 6 hours (which saves time) and then mash with skins on.
  • Add 1/4 cup of cream/milk and 1/2 stick of butter and mix until most of the clumps are gone.
  • You can make it with as many potatoes as you like or just one if you want.
  • Season with salt and pepper, to taste

or you could just cook them regular on the stove.

  • Cornbread Stuffing with Maple Sausage and Apricots
  • Cook onion, celery, maple sausage until onions soft, sausage cooked.
  • Add cornbread stuffing cubes and 2-4 cups of chicken broth.
  • Add diced dried apricots and then put in oven at 350 for 45 minutes.Gravy
  • Take pan drippings and skim off excessive oil.  Then mix together a little water and flour until smooth.  My Mom even uses the blender for hers but I prefer minimal dishes.  Then you add the flour-water to the drippings and stir until the mixture thickens up.  Then add salt to taste.Cranberry Relish

    Thanksgiving for 1 (Guest Post by SilingLDS Girl} via LittleFerraroKitchen.com

  • In food processor pulsing blade finely ground 1 bag of fresh cranberries, 2 tbsp agave nectar or sugar, a whole orange cut into segments and a cup of nuts (I’ve made it with almonds, walnuts and pecans all good). Add more sweetener to taste.

 Green Beans with Bacon Vinaigrette

Thanksgiving for 1 (Guest Post by SilingLDS Girl} via LittleFerraroKitchen.com

  • Green beans with bacon vinaigrette. Cook bacon into bite sized pieces.  Remove most of the bacon fat from the pan leaving a couple of tablespoons inside.
  • Cook beans in boiling water (I’ve actually found the microwave does this quite well) add red onion, 1 tbsp of sugar to the bacon fat and then ¼ cup balsamic vinegar (you could use any vinegar you like.  I used an apricot balsamic from Sutter Buttes Olive Oil that I got in one of my subscription boxes.  It was great!  Combine beans with sauce and stir.  Top with crunchy bacon.  Yum!No bake pumpkin cheesecakes (recipe adapted by I Wash You Dry)

    Thanksgiving for 1 (Guest Post by SilingLDS Girl} via LittleFerraroKitchen.com

  • 1 box gingersnap cookies ground to fine crumbs
  • 3 tbsp butter melted
  • 4 tbsp sugar or other sweetener

For the Filling:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 cup sour cream (I accidentally bought light cream cheese but it worked fine)
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 ½ c marshmallows
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp sugar (I added more because I like things on the sweeter side especially for dessert)
  • 1 ½ ts pumpkin pie spice1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups heavy cream whipped.

For the Crust:

  • Mix together all ingredients press into bottom of molds or spring-form pan.  You can then bake it for 5 minutes to create a more solid crust but I don’t think that is even necessary.
  • For filling mix together cream cheese, sour cream, pumpkin, and sugar.   Heat up marshmallows and butter until cooked and bubbling.  Add to rest of wet filling mix.  Beat vigorously.  Add to molds.  Set overnight.  Top with whipped cream.

So those are the recipes I used.  Have fun cooking for one.  It will be a great journey for you!  Good luck and let me know how things go and what strategies work for you. 

Thanksgiving for 1

Ingredients

Turkey Breast
    • 1 Turkey breast with skin
    • Fresh herbs (variety)
Cornbread Stuffing
    • 2, 6oz bags Dried cornbread stuffing cubes
    • 1 cup onion, chopped
    • 1 celery, chopped
    • 1-2 links of maple sausage
    • 1/2 cup dried apricots, diced
    • 2-3 cups Chicken broth
Gravy
    • 2 Tb flour
    • Water
    • Salt, to taste
Green Beans with Bacon Vinaigrette
    • 1 cup Green beans
    • 1 slice of bacon (more if you want extra for salads)
    • 1 Red onion, chopped
    • 1Tb sugar
    • 1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar
Cranberry Relish
    • 1 bag fresh cranberries
    • 2 Tb agave nectar or sugar
    • 1 orange, cut into segments
    • 1 cup nuts (almonds, walnuts or pecans)
Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes
    • 4 Yukon potatoes
    • 1/4 cup milk or cream
    • 1/2 stick of butter
    • Salt and pepper, to taste
No-Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake via I Wash You Dry
Crust
    • 1 box gingersnap cookies ground to fine crumbs
    • 3 tbsp butter melted
    • 4 tbsp sugar or other sweetener
Filling
  • For the filling:
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 cup sour cream (I accidently bought light cream cheese but it worked fine)
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 ½ c marshmallows
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp sugar (I added more because I like things on the sweeter side especially for dessert)
  • 1 ½ ts pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups heavy cream whipped.

Instructions

Turkey Breast
    1. Thaw bird completely before cooking.
    2. Make a paste with fresh herbs and butter then rub the bird with it and put underneath the skin. Check the label but it usually ends up being about 30 minutes for every pound at 350
    3. It should get to a temperature of 160 to be done.
Cornbread stuffing
    1. Cook onion, celery and maple sausage until onions soft, sausage cooked.
    2. Add cornbread stuffing cubes and 2-4 cups of chicken broth.
    3. Add diced dried apricots and then put in oven at 350 for 45 minutes.
Gravy
    1. Take pan drippings and skim off excessive oil.
    2. Then mix together a little water and flour until smooth in a separate bowl. My Mom even uses the blender for hers but I prefer minimal dishes. Then you add the flour-water to the drippings and stir until the mixture thickens up. Then add salt to taste.
Green beans with bacon vinaigrette
    1. Cook bacon into bite sized pieces.
    2. Remove most of the bacon fat from the pan leaving a couple of tablespoons inside.
    3. Cook beans in boiling water (I’ve actually found the microwave does this quite well).
    4. Add red onion, 1 tbsp of sugar to the bacon fat and then ¼ cup balsamic vinegar (you could use any vinegar you like.
    5. Combine beans with sauce and stir.
    6. Top with crunchy bacon.
Cranberry Relish
    1. In a food processor, add the cranberries, agave, sugar, nuts and orange.
    2. Pulse until finely ground.
    3. Add more sweetener to taste.
Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes
    1. Cook potatoes in the crock-pot under high for 6 hours (which saves time) and then mash with skins on.
    2. Add 1/4 cup of cream/milk and 1/2 stick of butter and mix until most of the clumps are gone.
    3. You can make it with as many potatoes as you like or just one if you want.
    4. Season with salt and pepper, to taste
No Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake via I Wash You Dry
  1. For crust- mix together all ingredients press into bottom of molds or spring-form pan. You can then bake it for 5 minutes to create a more solid crust but I don’t think that is even necessary.
  2. For filling mix together cream cheese, sour cream, pumpkin, and sugar.
  3. Heat up marshmallows and butter until cooked and bubbling.
  4. Add to rest of wet filling mix. Beat vigorously. Add to molds. Set overnight.
  5. Top with whipped cream.

All of the food made can be up-sized or downsized. If you would like less turkey buy a smaller breast or only 2 potatoes instead of 4. Use half the cranberries and make less relish.

Thanksgiving for 1 (Guest Post by SilingLDS Girl} via LittleFerraroKitchen.com

Thanksgiving for One

So yummy and doesn’t it look pretty? I think I got the table setting right.

As I mentioned in my last post this Thanksgiving week has been a little different for me.  For the first time in several years I didn’t go to California to visit my folks and for the first time since my mission I didn’t see any family.  I must admit, I had moments of sadness throughout the weekend but I tried to look at it as an opportunity for growth.  There aren’t many new experiences that come my way at 31 so why not take advantage of the one’s that do? (Blowing out my back at the 5k didn’t help much!)

In the months proceeding the week I thought I’d be having thanksgiving day meal alone and I looked up and down the blogosphere for someone doing a thanksgiving for 1.  Is it even possible to make a feast for one or is the idea oxymoronic? Could it be done?  I decided to take up the challenge and I’m here to tell you it can! (went to my friends house for actual Thanksgiving day meal which I was grateful for)

Here’s what I did:

turkey, 2 kinds cranberry sauce (love!), mashed potatoes, stuffing muffin, crescent roll, turkey, gravy

Week before- purchased all ingredients so no stressful holiday grocery shopping.  Next time will get smaller turkey breast but leftovers never hurt anyone.

Tuesday- Made cranberry relish-  Wagner family classic very simple.  In food processor or blender pulse cranberries, whole orange rind and all cut into chunks, 1/4 c sugar, 1/2 pecans/walnuts.  You can make it without the nuts but it makes it healthier and cuts the sweetness.  You can add more sugar if you like it sweeter.   I made a big tub because it lasts forever and I love it. I actually used agave but you could use any sweetener.

Wednesday- Made

pecan and pumpkin tarts

chocolate pecan tarts- 2/3 c sugar, 1/3 c butter, 1 c corn syrup,  3 eggs, 1 c pecans, 1 lindt salted dark bar chopped into small pieces.  Mix all together put in keebler mini graham cracker tart pans. Bake 350 25 min or until fork comes out clean.  Top with REAL whipped cream

Friday- Make pumpkin tarts- 3/4 sugar, 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 large eggs, 1 15 o can pumpkin, 1 15 o can ev milk.  Mix together put in keebler mini graham cracker tart pans.  In this case I actually prefer the graham cracker crust.  It doesn’t get soggy like pastry.  Mix 1/4 brown sugar, pumpkin bar mix, pecans for topping sprinkled on top.  Bake 350 20 min or until knife comes out clean.  Top with REAL whipped cream

The pumpkin tart may be the find of the project.  Really yummy and with the smaller size it makes for easy portion control.  Always nice for thanksgiving!

Saturday I was going to do more to prepare but my back had gotten blown out from the 5k on Thursday and shopping was all I could get through.  (I did way too much shopping this weekend but it was a lot of fun!)

Sunday- This was the big day.  Rubbed turkey with butter and put it in the oven before church.  Stuffed it because I forgot to get citrus/herbs for cavity.  (The one thing I did make too much of was stuffing).  I also put the yukon golds in some water in the crockpot before church.

turkey breast is smaller and I mainly like white meat anyway.
yukon golds in the crockpot! Perfectly done when  I came home from church!

I also made the stuffing.  It was a lot of fun making something different than my family would make.  It was a cornbread stuffing with turkey sausage, celery and onion. I just used a boxed cornbread stuffing cubes but not stovetop.  Cooking it in the muffin tins helps with portion control and makes it easy to freeze for cooking for one.

stuffing muffins

Once I got home from church I sliced the turkey, mashed the potatoes, heated up the stuffing, made the gravy (probably hardest part!), heated up crescent rolls from the can and made salad dressing.  The sale was simple arugula with a pomegranate blood orange vinaigrette (blood orange juice, cider vinegar, pomegranate seeds (which kind of have a cranberry feel to me.  Love them!) and agave, very simple!).  The combination of the sweet, tart and spiciness of the arugula was awesome!

salad was another winner. fresh arugula with blood orange pomegranate vinaigrette. (no oil and you did not miss it at all)

With a glass of apple cider everything was perfect!  It all tasted great and I didn’t end up with tons of leftovers.

leftovers.

I also rewashed and reused pans and other equipment along the way so I only used 1 load of dishes and it took me about 45 minutes to clean up from the whole meal. Awesome!

Here’s some things I learned from the experience:

1. To quote the amazing Judith Jones “Some say Why would I want to go to all that trouble just for me? My answer is: If you like good food, why not HONOR YOURSELF enough to make a pleasing meal and relish every mouthful.”  Cheers to me!

2.  There seem to be people from a certain generation that have a hard time with spending time alone.  Someone said to me this week “You went to the 5k alone”. My friend piped up and said “Rachel does lots of things alone…”.  I felt proud that I am challenging stereotypes and expectations for single women.  I hope I never stop! (Goodness knows I’m buying a house alone I should be able to eat thanksgiving by myself.

3.  As far as the meal itself pick 2 or 3 sides to make from scratch (I chose mashed potatoes and stuffing, my favorites).  The rest was more assembled like the salad or cranberries.  The rolls aren’t super important so I didn’t make those from scratch.  I eat sweet potatoes all the time on my diet so to me they don’t seem that special so I opted out of those.  Whatever you like.

4.  Then plan it out over a couple of days so that you aren’t so overwhelmed both with prepping, cooking, and most importantly cleaning!  Make the dessert the day before or buy those from a good bakery (or the rolls, or whatever you have that’s quality.  You could even buy the turkey and then focus your efforts on cooking sides.

5.  Don’t forget little details like real whipped cream and cranberry relish.  If your family always has a pickle platter have pickles.  Or if you secretly hate the family jello salad don’t make it!  That’s the great thing about cooking for yourself you can do whatever you want.  If you want to make turkey curry go for it.  Want to try sugar free recipe, go for it.   Want to make collard greens or eat ham instead of turkey do it!

6. Think of phase 2 recipes for leftovers. I’m already thinking of all the way to use up leftover mashed potatoes and turkey.  Cooking everything in smaller containers like the tarts or muffin tins makes them easy to freeze and eat later if you get sick of the leftovers.  Come January a turkey dinner may hit just the right note!

7. Because you are cooking for 1 live a little.  Buy lobster or mussels, get the good french butter or be like me and get a massage while on break!  There will be plenty of your life when you are scrimping and saving every cent to pay for kids and retirement.  An occasional treat for a single’s dinner is highly worth it!  Plus, you can afford to go organic, get grass-fed meat, artisan bread.  Whatever excites you!

8. It is a lot of work and goodness knows I too often shirk the responsibility of cooking for myself but I promise you (and need to tell myself too) that it is worth it.  It is always more satisfying than the flimsy mediocre alternative.

9.  I did little things throughout the meal to make it a little bit healthier.  For instance, I used milk instead of cream in the potatoes. I used turkey sausage in the stuffing, the salad had no fat and used agave for sweetener, no pastry made the tarts lighter (and I think better), agave in cranberry relish and not much of it.  Again, those are the kinds of individualization you can do when cooking for yourself that are hard with family that are used to things the same way.

Again from Judith Jones:

“There is something about going home at the end of the day or giving over a quiet Sunday afternoon to cooking- smashing the garlic, chopping an onion, getting all those good cooking smells going, stirring and tasting mindfully, and then adjusting the seasonings- that makes us feel creative.

It is a comforting form of relaxation- something that is needed in our busy lives.  I always love the moment of drama, too, when everything comes together and I quickly dish up my handiwork arranging it pleasingly on a warm plate and then take it to the table where I set a place for one with a cloth napkin in a family napkin ring.  I light the candles, turn on some music and give thanks.

I wouldn’t miss this pleasure for anything!”

Me either!

10. Cheers to doing one more thing on my own, even feasting!

Apple cider toast. Cheers to one more milestone and a delicious meal!

Happy Turkey Day 2012!

Happy Thanksgiving!  I hope you are all doing well and having a wonderful holiday with people who care about you.  This is the first Thanksgiving I’ve had in a while where I haven’t been with my family and I feel a little sad about that.  I miss seeing my nieces most of all but hopefully we can skype and say hello later in the evening.

I was determined to not sulk and feel sorry for myself this weekend so I have planed a lot of fun things (hopefully I wont’ work much but no guarantee I’m so behind on things and have to catch up!).  Today I was in a 5k walk for the food bank.  We did one last year with my family and this year my friend Suzanna and her family was there, so that was fun.  I finished in 1 hr 16 minutes which I felt pretty good about.  My legs and feet are throbbing.  I don’t understand how anyone could prefer running/walking to swimming.  Swimming can be intense on your muscles but so much tamer than running.

Too bad its a bit to cold to do a Thanksgiving swim; although my Poler Bear Club friends might disagree.  Burr!

So now I’m just watching the parade and icing my puffy muscles so they don’t seize up.

This afternoon I am going to Suzanna’s family thanksgiving which should be fun.  I have met most of her family over the years and they are from Indiana which is fun.  She said other friends were coming so I’m sure it will be a large group.  I’m grateful to be invited. (I have the best friends!).

Tomorrow after a morning swim,  I might try out some black Friday shopping- brave Ikea and Home Depot to see if I can get some things for my new house.  We will see.  I’m also getting a massage.  Can’t wait for that!

Saturday I am going with my friend Kate to a shooting range.  There is a scene in my book where the character goes to one and I wanted it to be authentic (plus I’ve kind of wanted to learn for a long time but with my eye sight I didn’t think I could).

On Sunday I am going to make a Thanksgiving for 1.  Yes, you read right.  I’ve decided to take on the challenge of making a feast for one person.  It seems impossible but I think I can do it. Should be fun!

So, I’ve got lots going on this holiday weekend.  The only reason I post all of that is some of my friends and family might worry about me (thank you for that by the way) but I’m fine and richly blessed.

Finishing the race!

A few things I am grateful for this year:

1.  I’m grateful for my family and for my non-family family.  This includes my swim family, church family, book club family, gym family, facebook family (my facebook family saved my life early this year), twitter family, and my friends family.

2.  I’m grateful to be building a house! WOWZERS!

3.  I’m grateful for a new beginning with a new year with a fresh start, new ward, new house, new experiences.  2012 was a doozy.  One for the recordbooks of Rachel Trials but I got through it and looking forward to starting over.

4. I’m thankful for NaNoWriMo and getting me to finally write the book I knew was in my head and proving to myself I can do great things.

5.  I’m grateful for SLOW (Salt Lake Open Water).  My 5k was definitely a highlight but it would only have been so with all the support and friendship.  I can’t imagine not having it in my life.

6. I’m thankful for MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) and the outlet for my aggression it has given me.   I love it more every time I go.  My trainer Ben is awesome and such a funny guy.  He definitely believes in me.  My trainer Michelle is also unfailingly loyal and encouraging.  The best!

7.  I’m thankful for my eyes.  My eyes have been through a lot the last 2 years and going through the surgery and vision therapy has been hard but very rewarding.  To see the world in a new way is such a blessing. I’m also grateful for my doctors and their skill in treating me.

8. I’m grateful for my insomnia specialist and the pathways we’ve made in the last 8 weeks.  It’s been great! I’m getting closer to sleeping the way I’ve always wanted.

9. I’m grateful I was diagnosed with low thyroid this year.  It has helped me overcome all the pain I was experiencing last year.  The doctor that diagnosed it is named Dr.  Ling and she and her nurse practitioner have been so wonderful.

10.  I’m grateful that I live in a world where for the most part I can be a thriving, successful, happy single person.  I know I have my moments but in some societies I wouldn’t have even had the option of living alone, leading my own life.  I’m grateful that I can be single, awesome and wait for Mr.  Sunshine to get with it and get here! 😉

11.  I’m the most grateful for my testimony of the Book of Mormon.  I have needed it so badly this year.  I have needed it’s words and it hasn’t failed me a bit.   I know Heavenly Father loves me.  I may complain now and then about the ward environment or some other small thing but in the end I would be lost without the Book of Mormon and my testimony of the gospel.

http://mormon.org/missionaries

Things I Am Thankful For III

Thanksgiving is here and that means it is time to trot out my annual ‘Things I am Thankful For List’.  Each year since starting this blog I have come up with 25 items I am thankful for.  This might sound like an easy task but my first list was frustratingly broad with such items as ‘my family’ only taking up one item.  I wish I had been more specific knowing there would be years of gratitude to come.  That said- it is probably good to dig a little deeper for my list each year.  Heaven knows I’m so blessed the list should be unending! Its interesting to look at previous lists to see how my life has changed.  For instance, last year I certainly wasn’t thankful for my gym or a trainer! My cousin Anne has done  tremendous list of 1,000 things she is grateful for.  I don’t know how I could come up with that many!

While this year has been a great one for change there are some things that will never change.  I will always be grateful for my testimony of Jesus Christ and the Restored Gospel.  I will always be grateful for modern scripture, forever families and temple covenants.  If I did repeats those items would make my list every time!  I know that Jesus is the Christ and that he died for my sins.  I know this from personal prayer and introspection.  He loves me and wants me to be happy.  Nothing inspires me more.  There is nothing I am more grateful for.

Thank you to all of you for all the love and support I have received on this blog, on facebook and in person.  This health journey has already been tremendously difficult and I could not have gotten through without each one of you.  God bless you and Happy Thanksgiving!

25 things I am grateful for

1. Prayer- Heavenly Father is always there when I need someone. Given I live alone there could be lonely hours but I do not feel alone with His presence in my life.

2. My Gym- Today I went to a gym here in El Dorado Hills and it made me grateful for my awesome gym.  I love the spa environment, the multitude of machines, the trainers whenever you need them and the POOL! I could not have lost 35 lbs without it.  Funny how you find just the right thing, just when you need it!

3. My trainer- Michelle has been great.  The perfect trainer for me.  She pushes me with new workouts and difficult routines; however, she doesn’t yell or demean me.  I am not the kind of person who would do well with a biggest loser type trainer.  She is just what I need.

4. My IPOD- My IPOD is currently only playing music out of one headset (no matter the headset); nevertheless, I use it every single day and love it.  I can’t imagine my life without music constantly adding the Rachel soundtrack!

5. Healthy Food that Tastes Good- I’m sorry but sometimes healthy food can be boring and tasteless, which makes me especially grateful when I find  recipe that has some flavor!

6. Swimming– I am grateful for one sport/fitness activity that I actually enjoy and am marginally good at.  Its nice to have a fitness reward that is great for my body and fun.

7. Stefanie and Emily being closer.  My 2 best friends Stefanie and Emily moved to Utah this year.  It has been such a blessing to have both close by- a tender mercy.

8. BYU- As great as my mission was BYU was the most trans-formative time of my life.  It gave me a voice I’d never been able to express before.  It is holy grounds to me.

9. Holidays- Even though birthdays, christmas, thanksgiving all provide bountiful opportunities to mess up my diet holidays are so great.  They give me something to look forward to when work gets drab.

10. Bruce and Tracy Grist- Bruce and Tracy are our new maintenance supervisors and are lifesavers.  They get things done without my nagging.  They like being around me and working with me.  They let me go on vacation and took care of everything.  May not sound like much but they are my heroes!

11. Visiting the Triplets- My cousin Kate had triplets in August and I get to visit them when I go to work in Syracuse on Friday.  It is so much fun and they are adorable!

12. Family Reunions- Sometimes I moan and groan about particular reunions but it is always great to see my cousins and grandparents.  I am lucky to be close to them on both sides.

13. Ben gay lotion- My Dad keeps telling me it doesn’t work but I don’t care.  To me it feels great!  While making my apartment smell like peppermint it has gotten me through many a sore night.

14. Good, Kind Doctors- After the incident with the crazy doctor I realized once again how great a good doctor can be.  Thank you to all the medical professionals who treat patients with kindness and provide accurate medical diagnosis.

15. Photography- I am not as into photography as the rest of my family but I still cant imagine life without it.  How sad would it be to not have life’s moments documented?

16. Broadway Musicals- I can’t think of much I would rather do then see a Broadway musical live.  It doesn’t even have to be in New York.  Some of the shows locally are great.  I am going to Christmas Carol at Hale Center Theater Orem on Dec 11th.

17. BBC Miniseries- one of the reasons I love Netflix is it allows me to continually check out various BBC miniseries.  Everyone knows I love Elizabeth Gaskell (see #18) but there have also been great versions of Jane Eyre, Emma, Little Dorrit, Wuthering Heights,  and Persuasion recently.

18. Elizabeth Gaskell– I can read her books (and have read them) over and over again.  I LOVE all of them.  The last three years I have read North and South at least 3 times.  I LOVE IT!!!  If you haven’t read it don’t be scared by the length.  It is so good.

19. Poetry– Any reader of this blog knows I love poetry.  I find it amazing how a perfect sentence can encapsulate an emotion, a world.   I wish I had more talent in writing but I love reading it.

20. Book Club.  I mentioned book clubs on my first list but it was never a separate item.   After about 4 months of failures finally this year I have established my own book club.  I love it!  We have read a variety of books and the conversation is always good.  Thanks to all who come!

21.  Julia Child–  This year I have come to idolize Julia Child.  Her book My Life in France is one of my all-time favorites.  I LOVE IT!  She not only revolutionized home cooking but had the guts to change her life at 40.  She had the courage to be her best self.

22. Free Elections- As this radical election shows the American people have the power to change their democracy.  I am grateful to have that say and to be able to vote.  Never missed an election since I could vote at 18.

23. Computers and High Speed Internet- Last year I went on a cruise where it was very expensive to use our computers or the internet.  That trip aside, I can not think of another day in the last 2 years that I have gone without using the computer or fast internet.   I do everything on it- even my shopping.

24. Art- I love beautiful art from all periods.  Throughout my apartment I have paintings by Van Gogh, Minerva Teichert and other artists.  I wish I had some artistic talent but I appreciate those that do!

25. Christmas Tree– Over the years I have developed some of my own unique Christmas traditions including going to the Messiah Sing-in and seeing a Christmas Carol at Hale Theater (and watching every other version I can).  Another tradition I have is my Christmas tree.  It is called a memory tree and it is full of ornaments that either come from a meaningful place or symbolize an event of my life.  I also have little silver picture frames that have recent photos of my family.  I love it!  (this year it is a bit tricky to figure out where to put it but I will find a way!

Thanks again to all of you.  I love you!  I know that 2011 will give even more to grateful and I can’t wait to see what it offers.