Friday, November 29, 2013

Highlights from Thanksgiving Day

Another Thanksgiving Day has come and gone. The four of us spent the entire day enjoying one another's company while cooking, eating, laughing, and playing. Emma woke the entire family up bright and early around 5:00 AM. Unfortunately, we were unable to convince Matthew to go back to bed. Several angry threats from Paul to head back to bed were ineffective and Matthew instead sulked in the hallway outside our bedroom door, breathing heavily enough that we eventually could no longer ignore him.

After several LARGE cups of coffee and an interesting pumpkin-themed breakfast featuring Thanksgiving's favorite pie, we cleaned up and headed out to Mass at our parish. The kids were angels throughout the entire Mass which was a lovely surprise. Matthew even sang along with some of the hymns and Baby Emma only had to be taken to the back once because she chose to issue some nonstop happy shrieks in the middle of the consecration.


So excited to begin prepping the turkey! Notice creepy Paul in the background.

Paul showing Matthew how the turkey probably looked before the neck was removed. And then attacking him with it. This grossed me out just a little bit. Matthew, naturally, thought this was awesome.

After Mass, we headed home to prep the turkey. Matthew was so excited to help Paul remove the giblets and rub the seasoning on our bird. He was even more excited about helping build the "big fire" on the grill outside - especially since we received a foot of snow the night before. He came back inside with red cheeks and freezing cold fingers, but happy as a clam.

After putting the turkey on the grill, we made some turkey cookies with Matthew and then enjoyed some appetizers before putting both kiddos down for a pre-dinner nap. Then Paul and I buckled down to make the stuffing and finish the other items on our list before serving dinner.

Paul did a great job! The turkey turned out perfectly moist and delicious.

Paul was pretty proud of himself.

Matthew woke up from his nap on his own and came rushing down the stairs crying: "It's time to eat turkey!" He had some crazy hair, but he was so excited that Thanksgiving dinner was finally here. He was especially excited about eating off the "pretty plates" in the dining room - which we pretty much never use because it is covered in white carpet and Matthew tends to spew pieces of his meal (no matter what it may be) in a three-foot radius around his seat. As a precaution, for Thanksgiving dinner we covered his seat and the surrounding carpet with towels. Maybe a little overkill since he chose to eat only turkey (a lot of turkey) and nothing else.

He's been looking forward to this for weeks! Ignore the crazy hair. He had major bed head after waking up from his nap!

So very enthused to begin enjoying her very first Thanksgiving dinner!

Getting ready to eat!

We started our meal with prayers and then Paul and I named a few of the things for which we are thankful. 

When it came time for Matthew to do the same, he replied with great enthusiasm: "I thankful for TURKEY!"
Paul: "Anything else? Maybe Mommy?"
Matthew: "Uhh...for candles."
Paul: "What else?"
Matthew: "Fire!...SMOKE!"

We saw that this was getting a little out of hand, so we said "Amen!" and began to eat our feast!


She would not let go of the bottle! She was MAD when I finally managed to free it from her surprisingly strong little fists!

We enjoyed a long, leisurely meal with our kids. They both were so happy, eating and chatting away (or more shrieking in Emma's case). Matthew got so hyper and giggly after drinking a couple glasses of sparkling grape juice that Paul and I began to doubt the "alcohol-free" claims on the label. Emma ate about as much as Matthew - finishing off two servings of potatoes and a dinner roll. We surveyed the damage at our meal's end and determined that we probably made enough food to feed 16 people. We'll be eating leftovers for a very long time.

My favorite dish this year was a new addition to our menu: Brussels Sprout Salad with Gouda, Dried Cherries and Pecans. It was a fresh, healthy addition to the table and my first successful attempt at getting Paul to eat Brussels Sprouts. Normally, he won't touch them with a 10-foot pole. I've even tried coating them in bacon grease in the past but haven't been able to convince him to try them. This recipe converted him. It's delicious and will probably become a holiday staple.

Brussels Sprout Salad with Gouda, Dried Cherries, and Pecans
adapted slightly from Cook's Country

Note: The original recipe calls for Smoked Gouda. We used a regular, creamy Gouda and thought it was fantastic, but I'm sure the smoked cheese would add another wonderful dimension to this salad.

3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 small shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt and pepper
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed, halved, and sliced very thin
4 ounces Gouda cheese, shredded on the large holes of a box grater (about 1 heaping cup)
1/2 cup chopped, toasted pecans
1/2 cup chopped dried cherries

Whisk lemon juice, mustard, shallot, garlic and ½ teaspoon salt together in large bowl. Slowly whisk in oil until incorporated. Toss Brussels sprouts with vinaigrette, and let sit for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours. I let it go the whole 2 hours before dinner to ensure that the sprouts had enough time to soften and meld with the vinaigrette.

Gently fold in the Gouda, pecans, and cherries. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

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