A Thanksgiving Gathering: The Menu

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Hello everyone! I hope you are getting geared up for Thanksgiving! I know I sure am! I am hosting a dinner on Nov. 22nd for invited guests and I would like to share with you some things I’m doing to create a memorable gathering around the table. I am starting a series of posts leading up to Thanksgiving that will hopefully help prepare you for your gathering event. My style, if you read my about section you will know, is very simplistic seeking the lowest cost option while maintaining high quality. If simple is your thing, great! You’re in for a treat. If not, that’s fine – take what you like and leave the rest. I am mostly sharing with you my journey to hosting my first gathering!

Aside from the guests, décor, etc., food is why you have a dinner in the first place. So it should be at the forefront of your mind. I know I can concentrate a little more heavily on the menu since my décor is going to be pretty simple.

I do not plan on doing a “traditional American” Thanksgiving dinner. A lot of us will be going to multiple Thanksgivings for family and I don’t know about you, but there’s only so much turkey I can handle this time of year! I plan on doing some different dishes while throwing in a few holiday favorites as well!

I also want to preface, some of these are not my own recipes but I have provided links where you can view them!

For Starters…

Autumn Harvest Barley Salad

For a starter, I wanted something lighter than soup but hearty enough so it wasn’t a summer salad. Adding any type of grain is a great way to get a hearty salad (without adding meat). I’m going to do a simple barley salad with dark greens, dried cranberries, pecans, and feta cheese served with an apple cider vinaigrette! You can also add butternut squash or acorn squash to this! But because I’m using butternut squash a little later, I’ll leave it out of the salad.

Main Dish

I think I’ll leave that one a secret 😉 I’ll tell you it won’t be turkey! Whether or not you prepare turkey is totally up to you! If you are only going to one Thanksgiving (yours!) it makes sense to make turkey. But if you are going to multiple Thanksgivings you might want to give yourself a break and fix some other type of meat.

Side Dishes

Homemade Cranberry Jelly

This one is super simple! Growing up my mom always bought the cranberry jelly in the can. It was the perfect bitterness to balance out the sweetness of (what seemed like) the entire meal. (Plus I have to admit I liked plopping it out of the can!) So I am sticking with the jellied version – just homemade this time. I’ll be trying Marisa McLellan’s easy cranberry jelly recipe!

Butternut Squash and Apple Stuffing

This one is not my own recipe. It is taken from Savvy Eats. I like stuffing but I always feel it tastes too bland (unless you pour gravy on top!). And then I thought, why don’t I take something savory like stuffing and combine it with something sweet like butternut squash (and because you have to fit in butternut squash somewhere in your menu, right?)?! And then I found a recipe, because I am much too chicken to develop my own.

Fall Roasted Root Vegetables

Roasted vegetables are an easy and healthy way to add some color and flavor to your Thanksgiving meal! Just gather your favorite fall vegetables (I’m doing carrots, parsnip, onions, and garlic), toss with some olive oil, salt and pepper, and herb of your choice, and voila! You have a simple but elegant side dish!

Dessert

Pear and Frangipane Tart

I’ve already made pumpkin and apple pie yet this season, so I wanted to try something different for dessert! I always forget about pears and yet they are a good fall fruit. This recipe comes from Sunday Suppers and is adapted from Feast: Generous Vegetarian Meals for Any Eater and Every Appetite by Sarah Copeland. You can find the entire recipe as well as view pictures of the tart here.

 

So there you have it! I know this isn’t one of my typical posts with pictures but I have provided the original links where you can view the pictures as well as the complete recipes! Once I am finished with the dinner, I will post my pictures and recipes up on the Recipes page.

Above all, I hope you gain some inspiration from this fall-themed Thanksgiving menu – whether you choose to go traditional or not. Be sure to click the links and check out these foodies and see what else they have to offer! They are truly talented individuals!

Do you have any must-try thanksgiving dinner favorites? I’d love to hear them!

Cheers for now!

Adele

The Pursuit of Simplicity

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I was reminded this morning of a quote by Yvon Chouinard.

“Going back to a simpler life is not a step backward.”

How often I have to remind myself of that, daily even. In our world of 9 to 5 desk jobs, stuffy board meetings, etc. it’s tempting to think that’s all there is. And if you encounter the corporate world, they will wonder why you are doing what you love to do and will persuade you in another direction – as if they own your life.

I’ll be honest, I have my doubts. The influence from corporate life is insurmountable. Going back to a simpler life feels like a step backward. But that’s how I know I’m doing the right thing. When you do something for yourself, you will doubt and you will receive push back. But that’s all the more reason to press on.

So no matter what your calling is (maybe it is the 9-5 desk job), here are some ways you can push through the criticisms and enjoy life as it’s meant to be lived.

Trust in the Lord with this new endeavor

This is a huge one, guys. Anything I do: cooking, my ability to write or style a table is because God has blessed me with these abilities. It’s not really about me at all, it’s about Him. Making sure my heart is in the right place and giving glory to Him is what’s most important. The bottom line: I would rather risk it all and have a deeper relationship with God in the process than be safe and be far away from Him.

Listen to your critics AND your fans

This reminds me of something Michael Scott said (he was a very influential thinker), “Don’t listen to your critics, listen to your fans.” I don’t think that’s entirely true because your critics shape you just as well as your fans. But I’ll tell you something, doing something you love and having people appreciate that is more reward than money. I have had too many interviews with no call backs, or no interviews at all after turning in an application that I thought was very well done. Hopes and dreams are crushed because a couple people make a decision about someone’s worth. Take that with a grain of salt, but move on and create your worth in this world.

Never give up

Okay, I know this is super cliché but it rings true! If Bill Gates or Steve Jobs would have given up on their dreams where would we be? (I wouldn’t be telling you this now that’s for sure, and a whole host of other things) Though I don’t intend to be the next Steve Jobs, no matter how big or small your dreams are, pursue them with everything you’ve got. Look guys, we’re only given one life. And that life is WAY too short to waste it away being somewhere you don’t want to be. (Of course there are obligations and seasons but that is a post for another time)

What are some of your dreams and how are you pursuing them? I would love to hear from you!

How To Make Hydrangea Christmas Wreaths

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When my boss told me we were making wreaths with dried hydrangea I thought, “What? How’s that going to look?” But after it was all said and done it looked great! This isn’t my only wreath tutorial this season, but I thought it was interesting enough to show you in case you wanted to try it! It’s pretty simple and you only need a few things to make it work.

– dried hydrangeas (it’s okay if not all of it is dry)
– straw wreath outline (you can find these at any craft store)
– scissors
– hot glue gun
– spray paint in green or any color of your choice (optional)

The process is pretty straightforward and simple. You’re going to take pieces of the hydrangea and cover every inch of the front, so you can’t see anymore straw. There is no need to cover the back side. If you don’t have a hot glue gun you can stick the pieces in the straw or the wire that’s wrapped around the straw. (Just be careful when you’re cutting the wrapping off that you don’t cut the wire).

After that how it looks is up to you! You can leave it brown like it is which I think is a really pretty and rustic look. It looks nice too if you spray paint it green. Then you can add pine cones, berries, etc. to give it an even more festive look!

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and that you try it yourself. Let me know how it turns out if you do!

I’m looking forward to showing you more festive wreath ideas for your holiday season!

{A Recipe} Red Potato, Sausage, and Feta Bake

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This one is a hit guys! It’s another fall recipe from A Daily Something. I changed it slightly as I omitted the butternut squash and used red potatoes instead (mainly because Andrew doesn’t like butternut squash :/). So I intend to use butternut squash in it someday and if you do, tell me what you think! I can only guess it’s just as delicious as this!

This is probably one of the best combinations of flavors I’ve tasted in a while. Everything goes so nicely together. The italian sausage adds a sweetness to the dish and the feta cheese helps to balance that sweetness out. I was tempted to try a leaner meat in this but I’m glad I didn’t because the sausage added great flavor. The nice thing about this is one helping was enough for us. The flavors were so intense it left you satisfied, not begging for more.

This is definitely a savory fall dish you have to try! Our home was filled with the most pleasant aroma and we couldn’t wait to eat it! There is also versatility to this dish as you can toss it with scrambled eggs the next morning! I’m always happy when I make something Andrew really likes so this is staying on the “must make” list for sure!

– Recipe –

You will need:

– 1 lb. Italian sausage
– 2 large onions
– 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes, divided
– 1/4 cup olive oil
– 2 tsp. minced fresh rosemary
– 1 1/2 tsp. salt
– 1 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
– 1 tsp. pepper
– 2 medium butternut squash or 1 lb. red potatoes, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
– 2 cups (8 oz.) crumbled feta cheese
– 2 small sweet red peppers, chopped

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large skillet, cook the sausage, onions and 1/4 tsp. pepper flakes over medium heat for 8-10 minutes or until sausage is no longer pink and onions are tender, breaking up sausage into crumbles; drain.

In a large bowl, combine the oil, rosemary, salt, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, and remaining pepper flakes. Add butternut squash, cheese, red peppers, and sausage mixture; toss to coat.

Transfer to an ungreased shallow roasting pan. Cover and bake for 35 minutes. Uncover; bake 10-15 minutes longer or until squash is tender. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then serve & enjoy.

I hope you try this recipe! If you do, let me know what you think! I am certain you won’t be disappointed.

Mornings Like These

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Do you ever have mornings like these? Nothing to do, nowhere to be, save for enjoying the beauty of your own home. I had a morning like this. It got bright as the sun rose, highlighting the fall colors on the trees. But something inside of me knew it was cold out. So I stayed inside and began my morning ritual – coffee and local eggs, which I opted to bake in my cast iron skillet. The new dining room table was looking beautiful adorned with florals, the light creating sharp contrast on this bitter cold morning – a rustic look which I adore.

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coffee and farm fresh eggs

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It’s important that we have mornings like these once in a while, and dare I say often, if possible. The reason I love mornings so much is because it’s a fresh start to a new day. And how you start your day is how you intend to end it. When we slow down our mornings, we slow down our entire day. And by that I mean being more mindful, creative, and careful about what we do and say. Our days become full of meaning rather than walking through life blindly.

I implore you to take a day or a few days to slow down your mornings. Drink a cup of coffee and watch the sun rise. If you can’t watch the sun rise, get up earlier (still have coffee) and take some time to reflect, pray, and meditate. You might be surprised how much better your day ends up!

How do you like to start your day? Comment below!

Floral Arrangements: A Simple Tutorial

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Before I worked at a flower shop, I had no idea how floral arrangements were really done. At least the kind not in vases. At Flowers of the Good Earth, we always use fresh flowers for weddings, funerals, school events, etc. We rarely use silks. So how they made fresh flowers, say in a basket, was beyond me.

Turns out, you soak special green florists foam (which I’m sure you could find at Hobby Lobby or the like) in water, then stick your flowers in that. Who knew?! Your flowers can be in a pretty basket and still soak up all the water they need. Of course they don’t last forever, but they last longer than they would if they were not in water.

For this floral arrangement, I am making alter flowers for various churches in Lancaster. But the concept is useful for any arrangement you want to do!

You will need:

Some type of green filler (I used leatherleaf)

Green florists foam

Scissors

Any flowers you want! (I used white carnations with 2 accent flowers)

Directions:

1. Start with your foam. If you need to cut it to fit a container (like I did), I would suggest cutting it while it’s dry that way it won’t make a big mess. Next, soak your foam in water. About 5 minutes, or until bubbles stop coming up.

2. Once you have your foam ready, start with your greenery. I usually start with a large piece to establish height at the back. Then, you’re basically just layering down from there. You want it to look natural and flow. Sort of how ferns come out in waves, it should look like that.

3. Now you’re ready to work with the flowers you’ve chosen. The placement of flowers varies depending on what you’re making the arrangement for. In this case, these churches are very particular and they like things neat and symmetrical. In any case, you want to make sure your flowers are spaced far enough apart and you need to establish some height. But play around with it and see what you like!

And that’s it! Pretty simple, right?! It only requires patience and a good eye. It’s creating a work of art out of flowers and letting others enjoy the beauty!

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! I have a wreath tutorial planned that will come just in time for the holidays, so be on the lookout for that! Comments? Questions? I would love to hear from you!

Adele